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Berlin Chapel of Reconciliation – curved rammed earth

September 22, 2013

Luke Mahony

ImageA Neo Gothic church was located in no mans land between the east and west Berlin Borders.  The church building was destroyed in 1985 in order ‘to increase the security, order and cleanliness on the state border with West Berlin’. Five years later the Berlin wall was pulled down.

The Berlin architects Rudolf Reitermann and Peter Sassenroth and Austrian rammed earth specialist Martin Rauch built this amazing curved rammed earth structure to place the destroyed church. The new Chapel of Reconciliation ‘unites architectural and ecological modernity with remembrance, standing as a triumph against its predecessor’s destruction’.

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The church was officially opened on the 9th November 2000, the 11th anniverary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Curved rammed earth walls are a beautiful use of the material with its soft gentle lines. It is also the functionally a great use of the material. A curve, like a corner makes for a very strong structural element. This building inspired me to build my house with curved rammed earth walls using the Fibonacci sequence. One day I will finish the last few jobs and post some photos.

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Rammed Earth: an overview of a sustainable building material

September 16, 2013

Luke Mahony

rammed earth information

I recently spent some time in the deserts of Australia and was shocked at the conditions of housing at some the Aboriginal communities. For aboriginal people whose earth is their soul and creativity, why aren’t they living in some type of earth dwelling? It would surely help improve their social, cultural and health issues.

At a recent sustainability conference in Kyoto,  Japan, an interesting paper was presented on the sustainability of rammed earth as a building material, especially for remote indigenous communities. The paper was presented by Daniela Ciancio and Chris Beckett from the University of Western Australia.

rammed earth dwelling kata juta

The authors suggested that rammed earth is a “viable alternative to other more common building materials like concrete and steel” and could be promoted in “any part of the world affected by remoteness, scarceness of energy resources and poverty.”

“In hot arid climatic zones, by simply applying some traditional design features it might be possible to create a
comfortable living space without any artificial air conditioning devices.” These principles can be extended to a wider range of climatic regions if simple solar passive designs are applied to the dwellings.

Read a PDF of the paper at the following link paper Ciancio-Beckett

Newcastle Rammed earth – NEWsandCASTLE

September 8, 2013

Luke Mahony

We believe this is the first rammed earth building in Newcastle, NSW on the east coast of Australia.  We are using a local sandstone material which some architects like to call rammed sanstone.

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The photo above shows a freshly ‘stripped’ wall between two older walls. The black box is a window blockout that will be removed in a few days.