Rammed earth is a construction method that has been used throughout history (you will find it used in some pretty famous, ancient structures), despite the lengthy history of rammed earth it still remains a relativity obscure practice. In this instalment of the Semper Journal I’m going to explore what rammed earth is and is it a sustainable building practice.
So, what is so great about rammed earth?
First and foremost (and the reason I love it so much) rammed earth is an incredibly sustainable and creates low emissions. For everyday practicality, it is sound and fire proof, it is resistant to vermin, it is great insolation and has high thermal mass, it is structurally very sound, and does not require toxic sealers. On top of that rammed earth creates beautiful organic textures and colours both internally and externally.
What is it made of?
Rammed earth is a process of compressing a combination of gravel, sand, clay, silt, and occasionally cement between formwork. The traditional practise uses earth that is dug up from the site in which it would be used in, you couldn’t get more locally sourced if you tried! However, in modern times the earth is usually sourced at quarries.
As a product, it is incredibly low cost, however, it is very specialised, as well as fairly labour intensive so using rammed earth isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to construction.
What are the environmental impacts?
As I mentioned briefly before using rammed earth is a lot kinder to the planet that other more generic construction materials like concrete. There are quite a few different reasons that is.
First, the manufacturing footprint is incredibly low, especially in comparison to its counterpart concrete. However, as previously mentioned those emissions have gone increased from the traditional method as most of the earth is sourced in quarries not on-site so transportation needs to be factored in.
The next reason it is a great conscious building product is its ability to regulate temperature. If you read the Semper Journal on Passive Design you will know that one of the principles of Passive Design is create spaces that require little to no energy for heating or cooling. Rammed earth has a high thermal mass, which essentially means it slows down the passage of heat, as well as releases heat when it gets cooler. When it is used correctly and in the appropriate climate rammed earth can postpone the flow of heat through a building up to around 10 or 12 hours.
I hope to see rammed earth used more frequently in the design and construction industries in Australia. It creates an organic, refined backdrop to any home as well as elevating some of the stress on the environment.
About Amelia //
Hi there! My name is Amelia, I am the creative director and owner of Semper Interiors. I created Semper Interiors after working in hospitality studios for many years, during that time I found myself feeling increasingly guilty about the waste created throughout each project. I wanted to be able to design and create spaces that have a minimal impact on our beautiful earth. My approach to sustainability is based around ensuring my projects have longevity in both quality and aesthetic, supporting local trades, artisans and suppliers and using natural materials.
Semper Interiors a bespoke interior design studio based in Balmain, Sydney that focuses on sustainability and conscious construction practices. If you are interested in how we can help you make your home or business more environmentally conscious and beautifully designed please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.