RESILIENT LIVING: Rammed Earth Homes Offer a Natural Extension of the Landscape

Source – inhabitat.com

  • “…The architects built the home’s rammed earth walls using soil that was excavated onsite. Recycled materials, also salvaged from the immediate area, were used to form a spiraled wall — dubbed the Debris Wall — that serves as a focal point defining the central courtyard, which allows cooling cross-winds into the home. Furniture was also built from reclaimed wood, specifically from the client’s storage boxes. To protect against unwanted solar gain, the windows are protected with meter boxes sourced from a local scrapyard”

Twisting rammed earth home wraps around a grand jackfruit tree

By Lucy Wang

In the lush South Indian village of Vengola, architecture firm Wallmakers has just completed a sculptural rammed earth home that looks like a natural extension of the landscape. Commissioned by a client with a large family, the 2,755-square-foot dwelling features a variety of shared common spaces, including an outdoor courtyard with a massive jackfruit tree that inspired the project’s name, the Jack Fruit Garden Residence. As with all their projects, the architects constructed the home with environmentally friendly materials including rammed earth, Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) and recycled materials.

person walking toward rammed earth home with sloped roof

When the client, Mr. Riaz, reached out to the architects with the commission, he asked them to save the existing jackfruit tree that anchors the southern side of the property. The effort to preserve the tree largely informed the final design, which frames the tree as a focal point wrapped with a compound wall that twists upward to meet the home’s curving ferro-cement roof. The roof is built from pre-cast, steel-reinforced arched shells engineered to minimize the amount of cement and steel needed without compromising durability. This sheltered outdoor space also features a Japanese-style rock garden and is easily accessible from the kitchen.

Related: Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views Join Our Newsletter Receive the latest in global news and designs building a better future.

concrete bench and staircase inside rammed earth home
metal and concrete staircase inside rammed earth home

Curved forms continue in the interior with a sculptural staircase that appears to float over a light-filled atrium. Discarded pipes salvaged from a scrapyard were used to create the balustrades as well as the chandeliers found in all of the rooms. “This propagates the idea that using such scrap materials instead of gorging into fresh material is not only in line with the concept of upcycling but also helps to create art pieces that cast veristic shadows patterns on the walls throughout the day,” the architects explained. 

large bed beside window covered with upcycled metal pipes
concrete bench built into rammed earth wall across from a wood desk

The walls are mostly constructed from CSEB made from compressed gravel, sand and cement as well as rammed earth. Openings are strategically located to take advantage of natural ventilation

+ Wallmakers

Photography by Anand Jaju and Syam Sreesylam via Wallmakers

courtyard with a jackfruit tree

This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout

Architecture

By Lucy Wang

When a family of six approached Indian architectural practice Wallmakers for a low-cost home, the architects saw the limited budget as an opportunity to innovate and experiment rather than as a drawback. To keep costs low, recycled and natural materials were prioritized in the design of the Debris House, an approximately 2,000-square-foot dwelling that makes the most of its compact site. In addition to locally sourced materials, the environmentally sensitive home includes a rainwater harvesting and recycling system as well as passive air circulation.

brown bench and table in outdoor space of rammed earth home

Located in Pathanamthitta of Kerala in the south of India, the Debris House derives its name from the site that was peppered with the remnants of many demolished buildings, elements of which were recycled into the new construction. Although smaller towns like Pathanamthitta have increasingly looked to building homes out of glass, concrete and steel in an attempt to mirror their urban neighbors, the architects resisted those trends in hopes that their site-specific design could inspire “the towns to find their own language.” Join Our Newsletter Receive the latest in global news and designs building a better future.

tan walls, concrete ceiling and tan floors of rammed earth home
curving brown wall with plants growing through open middle space

As a result, the architects built the home’s rammed earth walls using soil that was excavated onsite. Recycled materials, also salvaged from the immediate area, were used to form a spiraled wall — dubbed the Debris Wall — that serves as a focal point defining the central courtyard, which allows cooling cross-winds into the home. Furniture was also built from reclaimed wood, specifically from the client’s storage boxes. To protect against unwanted solar gain, the windows are protected with meter boxes sourced from a local scrapyard. The concrete roof and slab were mixed with coconut shells, thus reducing the amount of cement used.

Related: Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape

cube seats arranged around wood table
blanket and pillow on floor of rammed earth home

“While the house uses numerous alternate technologies, there is a certain whimsy and playfulness in its design,” the architects said. “Looking at the local context, the project strikes out, humbly maintaining its commitment to the society and the environment.”

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