House of Five Dreams: Rammed Earth Eco Home Keeps its Cool in the Sonoran Desert

by , 07/18/11

green museum design, green private museum,glass slab wall, Jones Studio inc, eco museum, green building, Arizona green building, rammed earth building, rammed earth museum, rammed earth construction, movable window screen,

The project combines a modernist house with a private museum, forging a synthesis between two different design aesthetics. The 6000 square-foot residence rests on its massive rammed earth base like a display glass box set on a pedestal. The residence is a clean white box wrapped in a mesh skin that covers the glass to filter the intense desert sun. The white interior continues the clean and simple aesthetic.

A dramatic undulating wall of stacked 1/4” glass slabs scale the full three stories of the building. The 75 foot long glass wall is a dramatic play of light and shape off-set by the minimalist interior design. The panel of windows is shrouded by a hinged screen, which lowers when temperatures are temperate to reveal the surrounding desert scene.

The lower level is the heart of the project – it holds a large private museum and archives. Rammed earth walls 4 feet thick surround the volume, naturally regulating the interior’s temperature and humidity. Architect Eddy Jones was inspired by the fact that much of the collection was found in the ground, thus the museum is a fitting tribute to the objects’ histories. Massive exposed steel I-beams hold up the floor above, adding an industrial quality to the raw earth rooms. Natural light from above highlights that seductive aqua-hued glass wall, which binds the entire space together.

+ Jones Studio inc

Photography © Robert Reck

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  1. Luis Chavez November 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm


  2. cdohh July 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Depends on the exact climate, but the thicker the rammed earth walls, the longer they act within the lag-effect (absorbing/storing the heat from the hot days and releasing it into the interior in the night). They usually have to be a good 2′-4′ thick to work correctly. Personally, I love how they look too.

  3. Ahauser02 July 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

    The glass and clean metal top-level of the building is a really nice contrast, both in its color and lightness, to the heavy material and tones of the rammed earth and steel lower-level. This is a really beautiful piece! I’m just curious why the rammed earth walls are 4′ thick?

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