YBE2004 Houses of the Future is the showcase event for the Year of the Built Environment which challenged Australians to consider the future of our built environment and the most tangible element of that environment – the house. The Clay House uses the twin concepts of a courtyard plan and the inherent mass of clay brick products to create an intimate and private house. The driving concept behind this design is that it can fit into a small block, and has high level of thermal comfort that doesn’t rely on artificial cooling and heating.
The Valley of Mud-Brick Architecture by Salma Samar Damluji is a scholarly book concentrating on the architecture and town planning of two towns in the Hadhramawt, Shibam and Tarim, Yemen. It looks at the very ancient origins of the south Arabian mud built architecture, its suitability for the climate, its adaptability, and its relative virtues compared with imported Western practices and how it can continue to develop as an indigenous Arabian art or science. It is clearly an exciting study to any such as Dr. Damluji, who had worked with and is clearly an admirer of Hassan Fathy, the great exponent of traditional mud brick architecture in Cairo. Read a review.
This 34,000 square-foot spa facility in Sedona, Arizona by Gluckman Mayner Architects is comprised of a main treatment building and six freestsanding residential buildings. The main building’s five adobe brick clad towers contain treatment rooms and anchor the complex in the landscape. See more of this commercial project at www.gluckmanmayner.com
The Center for Irish Earthen Architecture was founded in response to the number of enquiries sent to the Plymouth centre of earthen architecture, regarding information, training and the techniques of cob, rammed earth, adobe and wattle and daub. Along with the development and implementation of training courses for both the individual and academic institutions, the centre wishes to establish a monitoring system to deliver competence in earthen architecture to the wider audience.
In 2002, University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists discovered a 3700-year-old “magical” birth brick inside the palatial residence of a Middle Kingdom mayor’s house just outside Abydos, in southern Egypt. The colorfully decorated mud birth brick, the first ever found, is one of a pair that would have been used to support a woman’s feet while squatting during actual childbirth.
The scene: a humble clay house on one of Baghdad’s meanest streets. A knock at the door. When the man of the house answers, he is astonished. “We have presents for you!” warbles Shaima Emad Zubair, a young siren with tangerine lipstick. Batting her blue-mascaraed eyes, she pokes her microphone his way. “Labor and Materials” is Iraq’s answer to “Extreme Home Makeover” and the country’s first reality TV show. In 15-minute episodes, broken windows are made whole again. Blasted walls slowly rise again.
The Residence at Meteor Vineyards in Napa Valley, California contains a guest house constructed of rammed earth that is comprised of a V-shaped roof floating above the massive walls. Read more.
Within the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London there are a number of projects concerned with the archaeology, conservation and study of earthen architecture. Their web page details the interests, projects and people involved in this small research group.