Austin Architect Goes Really Really Old School With Rammed Earth

rammed earth house austin texas 01 Austin Architect Goes Really Really Old School With Rammed Earth

So, many of you might already know this, I am a product of the cow poking state of Texas. Yep, I know, it doesn’t seem possible, how could a good looking Twisted Green Juice Guzzling Black Monkie like me be from Texas? Well, I not from there, I was just trapped for a while. Most of my non-Monkie family still lives in Austin Texas, which just happens to be the greenest, most forward thinking city in that entire state. Austin is even the birth place of Whole Foods, how cool is that. So, when I saw this story about a green house made with Rammed Earth, in Austin, I had to post about it, even though it is not the type of place I would go for. It’s a very traditional designed home, and here at G Living we lean towards the sleeker modern side.

This 5000 sq. ft beast of a house is interesting because it uses one of the oldest building techniques know to man, Rammed Earth. Before humans ever figured out how to make concrete, they where using Rammed Earth, to build their cities, temples, and their high protective walls. By pounding a mixture of dirt, grass and clay between forms, ancient societies, build very efficient structures, which can stand for thousands of years. And since the rammed earth walls are so thick, they enable the buildings to maintain a steady temperature all year around.

rammed earth house austin texas 03 Austin Architect Goes Really Really Old School With Rammed Earth

The owners Brenda and Jeff Hood spent five years planning their rammed-earth house to be comfortable, yet energy-efficient. A tall tower called a thermal chimney ventilates the house. Hot air rises in the tower and is released out of windows at the top. Plus the views of the city are a major bonus.

The house incorporates a wide range of environmentally friendly features. The 2-foot-thick walls are made of compressed decomposed granite and cement. It’s a technique called rammed earth. The insulation is made from recycled blue jeans, and the wetland outside is part of a system for filtering wastewater to use for irrigation.

This home was designed by Architect Lou Kimball.

rammed earth house austin texas 02 Austin Architect Goes Really Really Old School With Rammed Earth

rammed earth house austin texas 04 Austin Architect Goes Really Really Old School With Rammed Earth

  • Bill

    Compressed, decomposed granite and cement? Throw in some water and you've got concrete. Isn't "rammed earth" more traditionally made with the soil available on-site?

  • http://akuse.com/blog Geekette

    Nice green attempt, but 2ft thick walls? Imagine the amount of material required to do that. What if everyone decided they wanted houses like that? Isn't the whole idea of all this green/sustainability *ish to do more but with less? Just saying; smells wasteful. Build your shack/castle however you want it, but put a lid on the "green marketing".

  • Larry K

    Cement is used as a stabilizer, small amounts 5%-15%, lime can be used as well, and more all natural, great house, I am local to the area and would like to know of more examples, especially CEB Construction, earth blocks, thanks for any info…….

  • http://www.rawmodel.com Rawmodel

    You've gotta learn about thermal mass. The energy they are saving on heating/cooling FAR FAR FAR outweighs the extra material used in the thickness. I would say to take it to 3ft if possible. With good windows and ventilation, 70F can be yours year round for about $50-100 A YEAR.

  • Rainforesthiker

    Rammed earth is often made with soil on site, if the soil on sit is suitable (has the appropriate ratio of clays/sands).  In this particular case, the house is on solid limestone with a thin layer of top soil.  The soil on site was not suitable, so decomposed granite was obtained from a local granit quarry.

  • Mostafa

    Guys. i am in texas A&M for 6 months i need to learn how to build by Rammed Earth system in reality…do you have any suggistions for me..you can send me on mostafa@tamu.edu



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