Oct
18

Pure Green Homes: Caterpillar House

I'm excited to show you this today, mostly because I have been admiring this particular form of green building technology for quite some time. While this sprawling, modern ranch house gives the illusion of light and glass, the basis of it's construction is rammed earth. The technique involves using earth excavated from the site for the purpose of constructing the walls. To build the walls, moist soil is compacted, layer by layer, inside a strong mold or form. Once the forms are removed, the result is an incredibly durable and strong wall, capable of supporting heavy loads. The practice is based upon ancient building techniques that modernization and refinement have perfected - but even in its primitive form many rammed earth structures have survived the centuries. You can choose to leave the soil it's natural colour (which will be unique to your site in terms of the soil's mineral composition) or you can add mineral colourants to influence the final appearance. At first glance the walls may appear to be made of concrete but rammed earth is natural, direct from the site, and requires little to no processing. The walls also have excellent thermal and accoustic properties, lending to an efficient, comfortable home. To truly build green using renewable materials that can be taken directly from the site is really unbeatable and can relieve a lot of the costs/greenhouse gases resulting from transporting materials from place to place. And from a design persepectivem, well, it just looks nice! This project was designed by Feldman Architecture, the rammed earth component is by Rammed Earth Works, and the interiors finished by Jeffers Design Group. Titled the Catepillar House it was the first LEED Platinum Custom Home on the Central California Coast. The home was designed to foster a stong connection to its surroundings, enhanced by the indoor/outdoor functionality to many of the rooms and of course through the use of rammed earth. Of course that same committment to the outdoors led to the homeowners desire to lighten the impact on the land by choosing to build sustainably. Large collectors make use of rainwater for irrigration; the window glazing, natural ventilation and operable shading also act as a passive heating and cooling system, cooling the house in the summer and warming the house in winter.  Integrated photovoltaic panels enable the house to produce all of its energy requirements without compromising the graceful curve of the low roof against the hill.

Great views of the interior use of rammed earth.



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