Contemporary guesthouse combines rammed earth and bamboo structure

Nelson Kon
© Nelson Kon

Built as part of a community training project, this multifunctional structure acts as a place for visitors to stay, as well as an extra office or a place for the kids to play.

Of all the building materials out there, nothing is more local and energy-efficient than rammed earth, which we've seen in a variety of projects, from modern homes to gorgeous university buildings.

Over in the warm and tropical parts of southeast Brazil, this unique structure was built by CRU! Architects using a combination of rammed earth and bamboo. It's a multifunctional space that the clients are using as a guesthouse, spare workspace or as an extra place for the children to play. The warm tones of the soil here are paired well with the natural look of the custom-made bamboo structural supports, and part of the dwelling actually wraps itself around a huge rock that exists on site.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

The interior is a balanced contrast between natural materials, full-height glass and white-painted interior walls. There is one long main rammed earth wall, complemented with a narrower one at the back, with a series of spaces in between, evoking a Miesian air to the whole project. As the team notes, care was taken to minimize environmental impact and reuse the excavated earth:

As the project location was remote from the town center and everything had to be carried to the site by carriers, the principal idea was to use as little construction material as needed by re-using materials and applying natural materials extracted from the site. The 6.3-meter-long (20 feet) rammed earth wall serves as noise barrier and is made with locally excavated red earth. As the terrain lies on a slope, levelling of the terrain was required thereby delivering base material without extra energy needed.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

The guesthouse is oriented with passive solar design principles in mind, and is designed to take advantage of natural ventilation, shading from the large eaves on its green roof, and the fact that the massive earthen walls will shield the interior from heat. The huge roof was used to offset the strong winds here, say the architects:

The guesthouse is less protected by surrounding structures; wind loads are hence higher, enlarging the need for extra roof weight. [..] Because of its thermic inertia, the green roof marks a difference in low and high-pressure areas in and around the construction encouraging ventilation.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Located at the back, the bathroom is minimally styled, and is neither too big nor too small.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Across from the bathroom is the bedroom, which has this enormous rock formation protruding into the space.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

Another interesting aspect is that this was built as part of a community training project, says the team:

The building is made by the cooperants of the social building project of Camburi. The idea of this social building project was to provide training and job-development for a deprived community. After the community center, commissions were sought outside of the village of Camburi in order to have economic return for the cooperants, of which this guesthouse is an example.

Nelson Kon© Nelson Kon

One might not necessarily associate modern design with an old building technique such as rammed earth. But as we are seeing more and more, that's not necessarily the case, and thankfully it's possible to build something beautiful and contemporary using this ancient, durable and eco-friendly method of construction. To see more, visit CRU! Architects and Instagram.

Contemporary guesthouse combines rammed earth and bamboo structure
Built as part of a community training project, this multifunctional structure acts as a place for visitors to stay, as well as an extra office or a place for the kids to play.

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