March 10, 2009

100 % Earth House. "House Rauch".

The use of rammed earth is a fascinating fusion of modern technology, ancient knowledge, and innovative construction techniques, and is increasingly attracting attention. It’s a sustainable building materials and natural building methods: Once a building is obsolete, it returns to earth.

House Rauch, image by Beat Bühler, House Rauch by Roger Boltshauser and Martin Rauch

At "House Rauch", a newly erected residential house in village of Schlins in Vorarlberg (Austria), the architects Roger Boltshauser and Martin Rauch have only used the excavated earth from the building site to build the house. Walls, floors and plastering are made from earth.

Earth buildings are costly in terms of labor. The silt and earthen mixture is compressed periodically in horizontal layers and compressed with air compression beaters and vibration rolls. In case of “House Rauch” 41% of the house's volume is under earth, which results in some subterranean cave-like spaces. The building's foundation is made of 60cm trass cement - the traditional roman cement, the ceilings are "Dippelbaumdecken" (beam ceilings) and the interior thermal insulation is made from rush mats, which is also a perfect underground for the finishing coat.

samples of rammed earth walls. image by Martin Rauch

Likewise, rammed earth is suitable for pre-fabricated walls. The elements get produced in a workshop and get mounted on site. The benefit to concrete: because rammed earth wall aredampish (moisture content of about 6-7%) and joints can be closed easily.

In Europe, Martin Rauch is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern technical and creative applications for traditional adobe construction. Together with his partners he has founded three businesses: the architecture workshop "Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst GmbH", the construction firm "Erden" and "Lehmo", a firm producing a rammed earth furnace. Martin Rauch is architect and entrepreneur.

See Martin Rauch's book on
Martin Rauch: Rammed Earth / Lehm und Architektur / Terra cruda (German Edition)