Rammed Earth House
Simply Sustainable - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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We are called to design and build in ways that support the entire ecosystem. This building is of the environment, and its impact on the environment is minimal. At the end of it's lifespan it will gracefully return to the earth from which it was created. A building built from the site, with earth excavated in creating a level site. This house has a very low carbon footprint with innovative polymer stabilised rammed earth foundations and lime stabilised walls. Cement usage was reduced to zero and building waste was less than the lunch packaging from the construction team of 24. Thick earth walls, that create deep shadows, mitigate temperature swings and provide thermal mass keeping the building cool in Summer and warm in winter, with a butterfly rood optimised for rain water harvesting soaring overhead. The thick walls were used as internal walls both for their chunky aesthetic , but also for their thermal mass! The roof is super insulated and water in channelled into a 150 thousand litre rainwater harvesting tank concealed beneath the north deck. The north facade has full height glazing to capture winter warmth, with the roof overhang creating deep shade in summer. The Thermal performance of the house is excellent! The earth for the walls was excavated on site, sifted, and lime stabilisation was added before it was pneumatically rammed between high form work, creating walls that belong onto the earth from whence they are created. TheThe Windows were chamfered allowing additional light into the spaces behind. and the earth floors were covered with sustainably created bamboo floors. The formwork used was deliberately large so that joints were minimised and a smooth marbled surface was achieved. Earth architecture has a strong African tradition, and this is a deliberate return to our African past and a decolonisation of Architecture. The design allows and suggest future changes and allows for different use. The large open plan living and working area has future divisions suggested by stub walls, and the laundry (which was required by the clients textile business) can become a future bedroom en-suite without any changes. The design is deliberately simple, with different levels of roof to break the form into human scaled elements. The exterior walls are higher than usual and to keep to the proportions the Windows and doors are equally scaled, with the top of the windows at 2,7 metres. The Architect was responsible both for the design and construction of this project, and this shows in the unblemished rammed earth walls, which were deliberately mixed to achieve a uniformity of finish except for the massive 800mm thick wall inside the living area which was patterned in the way of traditional vernacular architecture of the region.
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