Earth architecture has entailed something of a fringe movement, but the methodology's numerous aesthetic, ecological and financial benefits are beginning to cast designs like this Spanish rammed earth home in the limelight. The project was recently honored with the Terra Award in the individual housing category. Àngels Castellarnau of Edra Architectura said "building with earth links us with the territory." It also slashes greenhouse gas emissions - in this case by 50 percent.
Presented as a “contemporary vernacular 21st century house,” Castellarnau’s design incorporates a variety of energy and resource-saving strategies. The stone, earth, and straw used in construction comprises 80 percent of the home’s overall weight, and all building materials, including wood, sheep’s wool and hydraulic lime, were sourced from within a 150 kilometer radius. In addition to supporting local suppliers, this drastically reduces the distance materials have to travel, and thereby the amount of greenhouse gas emissions sent billowing into the atmosphere. In a recent press release, Castellernau reported that the lifecycle analysis of this particular design shows a 50 percent reduction in overall emissions.
Other notable features include thermo-insulating blinds, thermal accumulator clay plastering, and a biomass boiler, all of which are designed to make the most of natural resources available to the client. Strategically-placed windows maximize the amount of natural light reaching the interior, further reducing energy use, and a cistern collects rainwater for reuse. In her quest to research local, traditional architecture over the last decade, the architect has refined old techniques and developed new ones, many of which she has tested on her own home. She is currently working on two more earth architecture projects in Spain, and we are immensely excited to see the results.
Images via Doble Studio