Paraguay-based design firm Equipo de Arquitectura has created a number of innovative structures, but when it came to constructing their own office space, its designers decided to go back to basics. The team has just unveiled the Caja de Tierra – a beautiful, rammed-earth construction that was built around existing trees.
When the architects set out to build a new office space for themselves, they decided to focus the design on nature, with the goal of fostering a sense of connection to the earth. As the structure’s concept began to take form, the architects decided they would employ just three basic materials: earth, wood and glass.
The architects built the cube-like structure on-site themselves. First, they had to sieve the earth to eliminate rocks, roots and large particles. Once the soil was “clean”, they mixed it with cement and placed it in mold-like modules. The mixture was then pummeled with a pressure tool to get rid of air and pack it tightly into place. When the elongated, 30-cm-thick earthen blocks reached a sufficient consistency, the team placed them on top of each other, forming four beautiful rammed-earth walls.
The result? A gorgeous facade with red and orange tones that blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Contrasting with the all-earthen walls is a large glass skylight, cut into one of the corners in order to flood the interior with natural light – a feature that also reduces the structure’s energy usage. In keeping with the environmentally-conscious design, all of the furniture and doors were made out of reclaimed wood.
With a lot surrounded by greenery, the team did what it could to protect the existing plants growing on-site. Specifically, the architects designed the layout to leave space for two existing trees. A flame tree is framed in an all-glass box that juts into the interior while a majestic guavirá tree holds court right in the middle of the office space.
Photography by Leonardo Mendez and Federico Cairoli via Equipo de Arquitectura