Using concrete and mud bricks, architects Solanito Benítez, Gloria Cabral, María Rovea y Ricardo Sargiotti have constructed a unique wall by hastening the erosion of the mud by washing it away once the concrete mortar had cured, leaving voids in the places where mud bricks were set.
ShamsArd is a young Palestinian architecture firm that has designed several buildings constructed of dirt that respond to both the environmental climate (keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and the political and economic climate. An Israeli company that exports the vast majority of cement used in the occupied Palestinian territories, suddenly stopped the supply for almost a month because of cement shortages in the Israeli market. A few months later, the price of cement sold to the Palestinians also increased, making alternative construction techniques, a beautiful design solution. It also responds to history as Jericho, the location of their most recent design, is home to the oldest earth building traditions in the world. Hear and read more about ShamsArd on National Public Radio and in an Al Jazeera article.
The Ricola Herb Centre in Laufen (Basel), Switzerland was designed in 2012 by renowned architects Herzog & de Mueron with a facade constructed by master clay builder Martin Rauch, the building is a high-volume long building with flat roof and façade built using the rammed earth. Façade elements made of compacted local clay sourced from the Laufen valley will form Europe’s largest loam building by 2014. From spring 2014, Ricola’s herb processing activities will be entirely carried out at a single location. Distinctive features of the brand new production building are high energy efficiency and state-of-the-art green building principles.
The new building reveals many aspects of Ricola’s strong commitment to its production location in Switzerland and at home in Laufen. Its self-appointed high goals for ecology and sustainability are consistently pursued: Logistics efficiency and the sensible use of resources are at the forefront for this project. The new building will be completely constructed using loam sourced from the Laufen valley. Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst GmbH (LTE), a specialist company based in the Vorarlberg alpine region in Switzerland, manufactures the prefabricated façade elements. Production is housed in a temporary hall in the neighboring town of Zwingen where LTE practices a newly developed procedure. No elements are used other than natural and organic earth from Laufen.
Built in an Afghan Refugee Camp in Kerman, Iran, the 100 meter square meter domed shelter is comprised of approximately 6,000 mud bricks.
Pouya Khazaeli, principal of Rai Studio and architecture professor at Azad University, Tehran and Ghazvin, notes: “Social sustainability in design is our main focus area here. It means to study how these refugees live, communicate, the meaning of privacy in their live, which materials they prefer and use for construction, which kind of construction techniques they use themselves, how much they spend normally to construct their own shelters….”
Located in Glendale, California, the 23,000 square-foot childcare facility, designed by Marmol Radziner, accommodates 236 children between infant and Pre-K ages. The complex is the first LEED Gold Certified building in Glendale, and is the largest rammed earth building in Southern California. The sustainable strategies incorporated into the building, including photovoltaic panel canopies and structural rammed earth walls, are key visual and tactile elements in the design, emphasizing the facility as both a learning environment and an educational tool.
There is nothing new under the sun is an installation comprised of rammed earth and created for the 2012 Venice Biennial. The installation was done within the collateral event, “Traces of Century and Future Steps”, organised and curated by artist Rene Rietmeyer (head of the Global Art Affairs Foundation) and hosted at the Palazzo Bembo just next to the Rialto bridge. The architects Estudio Altiplano, from Bogota, Colombia, were given a space at the fourth floor of a 15th century palace to install the work—a performance piece that consisted of hoisting 3.5 tons of earth into the small chamber then compacting it into a solid rammed earth object. The work engaged many participants, simultaneously a demonstration in the process of fabricating allowing a discussion to emerge about topics of tradition, contemporaneity, territory and the built environment.
The installation formally suggests to the observer how architecture depends on matter in the form of territory, energy and resources. Earth was used to demonstrate how earth is a basic building material used all over the world and that traditional building techinques necessarily depend on oral tradition or transformation of knowledge to evolve and survive. Additionally, the use of earth demonstrated the plastic notion that conjures the act of subtracting compacted earth from the ground to mold it into new shapes without interfering in its material capacities. A continued discussion surrounding the project continues at http://www.rammedweb.com/
The Lacey Residence, by Jones Studio, is a 4,000 sq ft private residence located in Paradise Valley, AZ.
The site slopes in three directions; it is a desert knoll. Linear forms, assuming they are long enough, will inherently emphasize the shape of the landscape by contrasting a level parapet with the sloping topography.
Fortunately the program included a lap pool. This linear permission slip completed the third topographic axis, and finds directional purpose in its alignment with the 6 million year old Papago Peak three miles away; and the centerline of the main entry door!
According to the architects, there is a beautiful honesty in relinquishing architecture to the uncompromising reality of nature. If the intentions are sincere the architecture will only get better.
Saint Bartholomew’s Chapel, by Kevin deFreitas Architects, is located in the picturesque back country of northern San Diego County at the base of Mt. Palomar alongside the San Luis Rey River. A very small and intimate historic chapel was destroyed by wild fires that ravaged the reservation in late 2007 and only the original adobe bell tower survived, which became the anchor element in the redesign planning of the new church. The needs of the current congregation and community had changed quite a bit in the past 100 years. Though the fire destroyed a building that hosted many, many important events and celebrations, it also presented a “blank slate” opportunity to update the facility, primarily by doubling the seating capacity.