Australia's longest rammed earth wall forms eco-residence for seasonal workers

Luigi Rosselli Architects
© Luigi Rosselli Architects

As a building material, nothing is more local, energy-efficient and beautiful than rammed earth. Having been used for thousands of years by many cultures, rammed earth is making a comeback, popping up in various modern buildings in universities to Swiss factory buildings by star architects. Now, Australian firm Luigi Rosselli Architects have completed what they are calling the country's longest rammed earth wall, as part of a residence for seasonal workers on a cattle ranch (no word on whether the ranch itself utilizes sustainable practices).

Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects

Seen over at Dezeen and located in a remote part of West Australia, the rammed earth wall zigzags along for 754 feet, forming a facade abutting an embankment of sand, under which a dozen small, simple but functional residences are tucked.

Composed of locally sourced, iron-rich, sandy clay, the 17.7-inch thick facade and the sandy roof provides a lot of thermal mass, keeping the sun out and the interiors naturally cool. Each residence has its own terrace, and there is a shared garden for everyone to use.

Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects
Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects
Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects

This rammed earth project, probably one of the largest in the southern hemisphere and having been nicknamed "The Great Wall of Western Australia," is a departure from the tin roofs you see out here, explains Luigi Rosselli:

The rammed-earth wall meanders along the edge of a sand dune and encloses twelve earth-covered residences, created to provide short-term accommodation for a cattle station during mustering season.

The design of the accommodation represents a new approach to remote north-western Australia architecture, moving away from the sun-baked, thin corrugated metal shelters to naturally cooled architectural earth formations.

Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects

Gravel from the nearby river and water from the local well was used as a binder in these walls, and rammed by hand, creating a gorgeous, layered look characteristic to rammed earth walls. The floor is poured concrete slab, given the same colour by utilizing the same gravel and aggregates from the river.

Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects

A small pavilion at the top of the bank works as a multi-functional community spot and chapel. The roofing is made with gold-anodized aluminium set in a radial pattern, lending the space a light-filled aura.

Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects
Luigi Rosselli Architects© Luigi Rosselli Architects

Down-to-earth and yet also exuding a refined quality, this impressive rammed earth project demonstrates that this most traditional and basic of building materials is still relevant today, even in the harshest of climates. More over at Luigi Rosselli Architects.

Tags: Architecture | Australia | Green Building

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