History has shown that you can build a house with pretty much anything. In recent years, particularly with environmental consciousness now playing a bigger role in the choice of materials, more and more houses are being built using unconventional building blocks. Here are three projects and the unusual items used to build them.
Centuries before bricks and cement (or even mortar, for that matter) became the standard materials for the building of houses, people were building their homes out of rammed earth. As the name suggests, this material consists of sand, gravel or clay compacted in premade moulds or frames to create either walls or individual bricks (usually the latter, creating a distinctive, layered effect). It is entirely environmentally friendly and provides far better insulation than standard bricks.
This house in Napa, California, built by Rammed Earth Works, was built using rammed earth with a small percentage of concrete used for binding purposes. It is designed to appear to emerge from and blend with the site on which it was built. Since these types of houses are built using earth drawn from the site itself, this is entirely appropriate.
Surprisingly, bales of straw have often been used in house building and provide a high degree of insulation, thermal mass and structural strength. What’s more, they render attractive, modern buildings that betray nary a trace of the material’s farmyard origins.
Pictured above, Chalk Hill house, near San Francisco, was built entirely of straw bales, wood and other ‘green’ materials, with steel frames and roof trusses.
This is another environmentally-friendly choice . The emphasis here is different though. Rather than using biodegradable material, the aim here is to recycle material that will never biodegrade. Thousands of cans are filled with rammed earth and the result is a structure that is incredibly strong and well insulated.
Architect Michael Reynolds first started using tyres in his pioneering ‘earthship’ homes, which he started building in the 1970s. The earliest example, pictured here, is nicknamed the ‘thumb house.’
EB Architect makes extensive use of environmentally friendly materials and can happily assist the more green-minded client. Contact us to discuss your dream house.