Rammed earth house in Australia becomes a visionary design

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A farmhouse was purchased as a weekend retreat by a family who commissioned Robson Rak Architects to build a larger house on the 10-acre property in Merricks North, just outside of Melbourne, Australia. The new home was embedded into the ground, comprised of rammed earth, glass and steel. The architects created a rectangular shaped home offering symmetrical spaces to cater to the simple lifestyle needs of its inhabitants. The clients did not want any direct sunlight into the home, instead they wanted a natural, diffused light throughout. Since the home was south facing, it proved more problematic to bring natural light into the home, so the architects contrived a clever plan to break up the boxy home to create more intriguing spaces. The design concept offers surprising little nooks, such as a built-in window seat next to the fireplace. The home was embedded into the sloping landscape over two levels, offering three separate living zones: the parents zone, which houses a master bedroom, walk-in closet, en-suite bathroom and a home office. A central zone encompasses the main living spaces, including an open concept living, dining and kitchen area, as well as the entryway into the residence. The lower zone entails the children’s living quarters, including two bedrooms that share an en-suite bathroom, a secondary living area as well as the laundry/mudroom. This level spills out onto the outdoor living spaces, which includes a negative edge swimming pool, fireplace with wood storage, terrace and pergola. There are plenty of lounging spaces to enjoy fresh air and makes the outdoor living experience usable all year round…especially with the fireplace!

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A long eave was designed to shade the main living areas from direct sunlight, while skylights and expansive windows allow natural light to still be diffused into the spaces. In keeping with the simplicity of design that the clients longed for, the material palette is very simple, earth, glass and wood. The rammed earth is an old and natural building construction method, used on most of the interior walls, creating a stunning, warm and textural aesthetic. The appearance of the walls changes throughout the day, depending on where the light hits. The best part of this applying this building material is that it keeps a consistent internal core temperature. Now the clients have an energy-efficient home, which includes a high R-value for the walls and windows and doors that are double-glazed.


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A key element to the success of this design, “the high thermal mass of these walls has made the house thermally efficient.” With operable windows in all directions, it allows for superb cross ventilation throughout the interiors of the residence. The use of rammed earth as a building material is perfect for any home that is located in an area that is considered a high fire risk, giving the property a 4-hour fire rating. The “rammed earth has a very low ‘embodied energy’ in its production and construction.”

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Have a look through some other amazing rammed earth houses that we have showcased in the past here on 1 Kindesign:

Spectacular beach house in Maui

Striking rammed earth dwelling in the countryside

Concrete and rammed earth: Desert Courtyard House

Rammed earth home inspired by spectacular New Mexico landscape

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What We Love: The material palette used in this home of rammed earth, glass and steel is a thing of beauty, proving that clean and functional design can create a very inspiring effect on both the interior and exterior atmosphere. What do you think of the design of this home?

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The kitchen features a long central island clad with hand-made tiles, while the backside of the kitchen is comprised of stainless steel. Around the corner from the kitchen is a guest bedroom with its own en-suite bathroom and a powder bathroom.

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Photos: Shannon McGrath


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