Brittany's solar-powered Groundhouse - conceived over a decade by Daren Howarth and Adrianne Nortje - flips the stereotype that rammed earth homes are only fit for peace-loving hippies. Yes it's earthy - with exterior walls comprised of no less than 150 tons of rammed earth formed by tires. But it is also so well-designed and economical that even the least eco-conscious person would enjoy living in it. Bespoke furnishings (made of mostly recycled, salvaged, local or traditional materials) and 14 solar panels that produce more energy than the home could ever use make this a winning design for people on all levels of the environmentally-aware spectrum.
The Living Building Challenge promotes the most sustainable development possible and we would venture a guess that the Groundhouse would at least come really close to meeting their requirements. Yes, that is how much attention has been paid to every material and design choice. Situated in a 1.5 organic garden, the south-facing home has spectacular thermal massing and daylighting, ensuring that it stays well-lit and warm throughout the year.
All of the home’s water is harvested and recycled, the kitchen boasts enviable salvaged oak workspaces, and the bathroom, which is equipped with a Swedish dry toilet that further slashes this home’s water consumption, is finished off with a rustic lime plaster. Beautiful blue glass embedded in the walls break up the monotony of the earthen walls. Although the rooftop solar panels generate more energy than the house typically uses, two deeply efficient wood burners are available to take the edge of particularly cold days and nights.
Featured on Grand Designs, the Groundhouse has been around for a couple of years, and its designers have grown into successful ambassadors of genuinely sustainable and earth-friendly construction. Dream home? We think so.