In colder areas of the country, rammed earth walls are a potential solution to cold homes with no artificial heating systems.
Working in tandem with concrete slabs, these walls can naturally regulate temperatures all year round. A rammed earth house can easily maintain its integrity for up to 1000 years, underlining its durability.
Rammed earth walls came about in Lyons, France during the mid-16th century. The walls contain materials including gravel, sand, silt, clay and selected aggregates, with the materials ‘rammed’ between two parallel frames. The walls texture and palette is one of honesty and genuinity, due to the natural elements used to craft them.
Your Home, the Morrison Government’s guide to sustainable housing, says rammed earth walls work optimally when utilised in climates where the difference between day and night temperatures is approximately six degrees. When used in tropical climates, the walls may retain too much heat, and make the home uncomfortable in summer months.
Sally Hawkins, who’s Mystery Bay home recently featured on Grand Designs Australia, features a rammed earth, 360 degree wall that is longer than an Olympic swimming pool, and in some places is nearly a metre wide.
The wall covers the eastern side of the house, and is perfect for it’s surrounding on the NSW south coast. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Hawkins says the wall, made of decomposed granite, also doubles as a wind and sound barrier.
“I fell in love with the medium, the idea of making something out of the ground was very appealing. They’re also very beautiful,” she says.
The home, designed by Hawkins’ son Jack of Jack Hawkins Architect, endured a cold morning last month where it felt like 12 degrees outside. The house was an initial 18 degrees when the Hawkins family woke up in the morning, with the house rising to 30 degrees by mid afternoon. The implementation of the wall, as well as the concrete slab, has made for a house that regulates temperature without the need for an air conditioning unit.
The house, titled Mystery Bay House, was a finalist for the Australian Institute of Architect’s NSW New House of the Year award. To view the house in all it’s glory, visit jackhawkinsarchitect.com.au/projects/mystery-bay-house.