Best of est | Rammed Earth Homes

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    We’ve fallen under the spell of rammed earth, celebrating its innate capabilities with six of our favourite Australian homes. 

    Rammed earth is an ancient method of building – the foundation to some of the oldest structures still standing around the world.  It’s not hard to find the advantages of using rammed earth; it’s inherently fireproof and soundproof, has a high thermal mass, resistant to pest damage and has a low cost to the earth. That’s without pointing to the textural, grainy warmth rammed earth walls offer inside, while letting a home sit comfortably within its untamed terrain. 

    We’re taking a tour through leading Australian examples of rammed earth homes by Luigi Rosselli Architects, Templeton Architecture, Robson Rak and Breathe Architecture. These architects and designers have readily embraced the material in different regional, coastal and suburban locations. Collectively, their six homes are designed to stand the test of time, giving their occupants a chance to sincerely, respectfully and safely connect with their surroundings. 

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    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

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    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

    Templeton Architecture took on a site which was originally a chook farm in the rolling hills of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. The home was designed as a place to escape to with loved ones and enjoy a solid dose of rural tranquillity, playing on a palette of raw and delicate materials to frame the landscape. “The site is spoilt for choice with water views and rolling hills covered in vineyards, quietly competing for your attention,” architect Emma Templeton says. “These options afforded the project a variety of beautifully framed vistas and clearly defined separation between public and private domains.”

    The pitched roof form references the original buildings on site, while the rammed earth walls enhance the building’s sense of belonging to the landscape, from the ground up. Distilled with warmth from these earth walls, Templeton Architecture deliberately kept the internal finishes honest and pared-down like in the master bedroom suite; creating a casual and comfortable place to get away. “Rather than a particular space or location, I am most pleased with the atmosphere created; it is inviting, generous and relaxing,” Emma says.

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    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

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    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

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    Sybil House by Templeton Architecture

    Layer House by Robson Rak

    Just as the Sybil House, the Layer House by Robson Rak is close to the beach in regional Victoria. It was built on a sloping site made up of layers of limestone shelves and underground caves. The brief called for a quality, down-to-earth home that would last generations, referencing the site as a series of layers nestled among tea tree shrubbery.

    The home is particularly sensitive to the site through both building materials and techniques. Robson Rak selected locally-sourced rammed earth, being sustainable and requiring no maintenance – perfect for a holiday home. The rammed earth was paired with timber that will silver with age. Slicing through the rammed earth are double-glazed aluminium doors and windows, with louvres for cross ventilation. An electric dose of colour comes through the green tiled island bench, referencing the shrubbery on site.  

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    Layer House by Robson Rak | Build by Heyward Constructions

    Edgars Creek House by Breathe Architecture

    Edgars Creek House by Breathe Architecture sits gently overlooking the sandstone cliffs and ironbark trees in Coburg North, Melbourne. Designed to recede into the urban bushland, as though it has always existed there, the home is clad in sustainable natural materials in their most raw form. Rammed earth shields the southern facade of the home, drawing on the same colours of the sandstone creek edge. 

    The house is divided into three pavilions for three different zones, aiming to feel connected with the landscape without trying to dominate it. Double-glazed sliding doors provide a constant reminder of the close proximity to the surrounds, just as natural grey stone and recycled Tasmanian Oak work with the rammed earth to emanate the textures of the location indoors. 

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    Edgars Creek by Breathe Architecture

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    Edgars Creek by Breathe Architecture

    Matilda House by Templeton Architecture

    Completed a few years prior to Templeton Architecture’s Sybil Home, the Matilda House was designed as a weekender for the granite hills of northeast Victoria where the client spent their childhood. The low form tucks itself into the eucalypts, completely comfortable with the undulating scrub.

    The location is known for its weather extremes; chilly winters with frozen water pipes and scorching summer heat. Rammed earth was used for its honest warmth, solidity and thermal mass. Together with cross-ventilation, a sunken courtyard to the east and timber awning to the west, Templeton Architecture have tapped into the optimal equation of natural light, ventilation and protection. Speaking directly to the natural grooves of the rammed earth exposed inside, Templeton introduced stone and Australian timber. This sanctuary will only soften with time as the landscape adjusts and envelopes the built form.

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    Matilda House by Templeton Architecture

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    Matilda House by Templeton Architecture

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    The Beetle Dining Chair designed by GamFratesi for Gubi in the Matilda House by Templeton Architecture.

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    Matilda House by Templeton Architecture

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    Matilda House by Templeton Architecture

    Merricks House by Robson Rak

    Located in the small town of the same name, Merricks House spills out onto its site as a series of rectangular rammed earth blocks. First asked to create a simple rectangular box, Robson Rak offered a dynamic solution with quiet pockets like the window seat that keeps the owners warm by the fireplace. 

    Merricks House sticks to a modest palette of earth, glass and timber. The rammed earth is composed of local sand from the Mornington Peninsula, taking on a personality of its own inside when illuminated by the skylights. The rammed earth also ensures the internal temperature stays consistent and along with the double-glazed windows and doors that allow for cross-ventilation, makes for an environmentally-efficient abode. Not only that, but the rammed earth is also favourable for the fire-risk area. 

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    Merricks House by Robson Rak

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    Merricks House by Robson Rak

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    The Le Corbusier No. B9 Chair by Thonet in the Merricks House by Robson Rak.

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    Merricks House by Robson Rak

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    Merricks House by Robson Rak

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    Merricks House by Robson Rak

    Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects

    Celebrated for his curvaceous architecture, architect Luigi Rosselli credits rammed earth as the catalyst for bringing together history, nature, malleability and softness in a Federation era bungalow in Sydney. “Earth is one of the oldest construction materials known to man; it can be fired, as with bricks and tiles, or used in its raw state as with adobe or rammed earth,” Luigi Rosselli attests. 

    Sharing its name with the iconic 1970s American band, the project, Earth, Wind and Fire features a seven-metre high rammed earth chimney as a symbol of the home and its relationship with the outdoors.  Rammed earth was also introduced inside, most notably in the classic navy kitchen and eclectic living space. The building material was chosen for its softness – equally strong and weight-bearing while having a breathable skin. The grainy quality was achieved through particular care, as Luigi Rosselli Architects called on Earth Dwellings to ensure the earth did not become too wet in the process. This has left the home with a sculptural centrepiece outside and an unrivalled sense of durability and tactility indoors. 

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    The Cloud 37 Chandelier by Apparatus Studio in the Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects.

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    Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects

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    Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects

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    The CH20 Elbow Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen + Son and the DCW Editions Mantis Lamp in Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects.

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    The Bell Coffee Table designed by Sebastian Herkener for ClassiCon in Earth, Wind and Fire by Luigi Rosselli Architects.

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