Be it an earthship or a rammed earth house, earth architecture is of particular interest to many of us since earth is a) plentiful and b) cheaper to maintain, as the resulting building won't require much heating or cooling, thanks to the thermal mass of thick, earthen walls. Alluding to the ancient typology of the "cave house" in China's northern province of Shanxi, Chinese design firm Hypersity created this gorgeous rammed earth home that features curving walls and a modern interior.
According to ArchDaily, this home was built for a local internet star who already owned a traditional cave house here. The region's cave houses, or " yáodòng", have been around for millennia, and are still being built, typically carved out of hillsides, or dug out from a pit that acts as a central courtyard. It's estimated that 40 million people live in these types of dwellings. In this particular case, Hypersity renovated the client's existing cave house by demolishing part of it, opening up the space for a larger outdoor courtyard and adding a rammed earth perimeter.
A bedroom, dining area, bathroom, storage rooms, and kitchen have been inserted in volumes between the five alternating courtyards, which let in plenty of sun and air. Spatially, the grey-tiled courtyards offer a kind of experiential repose, much like a Chinese garden, while also serving to connect the different parts of the house and incorporate more of nature inside.
The dining room has a warm character, thanks to how the natural materials and furnishings are paired together.
The living room is a real delight: screened with a wooden partition, it has a barrel-vaulted ceiling that is kept minimal and feels quite sublime and tranquil.
A circular, glass "light well" has been inserted between the bedroom and living room to invite more light and air into the interior.
The architects explain that by using locally sourced earth, the cost of the project was lowered considerably, but this also helps to connect the home with its place in the land:
Rural people deserve a modern life and ample modern facilities. However, rural areas should not be the lower versions of the city, and should not be the followers of the city. Instead, it should maintain the intimated relations to the sky and the land.
Ultimately, the curving walls of the new earthen home recall the time-honoured building traditions behind the region's cave houses, creating a home that very much rooted and fleshed by the land, yet also full of light and warmth. For more images, visit