green design, eco design, sustainable design , rammed earth, Marfa Texas, Barker Freeman Design, rainwater collecting system, desert landscape

Inspired by the desert landscape and rising rock formations in the Chihuahuan desert, Barker Freeman designed the Marfa complex to emerge from the ground like the local scenery. With this in mind, the architects turned to an ancient building practice, using rammed earth as a way to integrate the structures, while also using natural insulation to keep the interiors cool in a sustainable way. In the desert sun, the layers of rammed soil naturally draw heat out of the homes, keeping climate control bills lower than in other structures.

Related: Stanford University’s rammed earth Windover Contemplative Center provides a tranquil space for students

The units open onto a central courtyard constructed on an angle to create a potential performance space for residents to enjoy. A series of steps on a gentle gradation can double as stadium seating, as well as walking paths. The steps face outside of the complex, framing the Marfa landscape for residents to marvel.

Extending from the units and joined together in the central courtyard is a radial steel strut that collects precious rainwater and diverts it to a collection cistern. Using sustainable principles, the Marfa complex works with the Texan landscape to keep residents cool and comfortable in the desert sun.

+ Barker Freeman Design Office 

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