A house made of rammed-earth with an old technology revisited in a contemporary way

This house by Arquipélago Arquitetos is located in the hinterland of Cunha (Brazil), in the interior of São Paulo, in a mountainous region traditionally known for its ceramic craft culture.

The party of the house comes from its implantation at the top of the hill of the landscape, seeking the best views of the entire oblique terrain and the Serra, in the background.

To protect the house from the cold winds, a cut of 1 meter of earth was made in order to half-buried it, up to the height of the benches of the service areas. From this cut emerged every constructive resource for the execution of the walls of the house: the earth.

The main walls of the house are made of rammed-earth, old technology revisited in a contemporary way: an authentic formwork system was proposed that avoided perforations with metal bars and developed a more efficient building site, so that its modulated components could be disassembled and reassembled with facility.

This constructive technique provided the architects with interdisciplinary encounters: physics, chemistry, geology and geography broadened their understanding of the landscape where they proposed the house.

All the characteristics of hardness, thermal inertia, color, brightness, tactile quality are factors due to the physical and chemical characteristics of that specific soil.

The rest of the walls are made of straw colored bricks, burned earth, by a local pottery that removes clay rich in aluminum from the floodplain regions of a stream.

The house has rooms facing north and a room to the northwest looking to warm the living environment in the rigorous winter. There is a fireplace and a wood stove in the living room, also made of mud and, connected to the balcony, on the floor, a large circular space for a bonfire made of bricks.

The roof structure is a wooden grate, composing together with the floor two large horizontal planes in wood that are distinguished from the vertical planes on earth.

It was sought that the original fact of this construction in an isolated, wild place was a maximum signal of the arrival of human presence in the landscape: straight lines marking the soft topography.

Design and info © Arquipélago Arquitetos

Images © Federico Cairoli

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