Ramming earth to create walls is at least as old as the Great Wall of China. It is really quite similar to adobe and cob techniques, in that the soil is mostly clay and sand. The difference is that the material is compressed or tamped into place, usually with forms that create very flat vertical surfaces. Modern rammed earth typically utilizes heavy mechanized equipment to move and compress the material . The walls are normally at least a foot thick to give enough bulk to be stable and provide the thermal mass for comfort. It is best to apply insulating material to the outside of the building to keep the interior temperature constant. The interior surface can be finished in a variety of ways, from natural oil to more standard surfaces. Rammed earth houses tend to have a very solid, quiet feeling inside.
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This one story Santa Fe Style bungalow home is based upon 24-inch wide straw bale construction (or rammed edarth) on concrete block foundation & concrete spread footings with crawl spaces and a partial basement. Natural interior plaster and natural exterior stucco are recommended. A ten foot beamed ceiling in the living dining room overlooks an east facing courtyard patio. The house is 1,716 sq. ft. as shown (outside dimensions). The 2 foot thick exterior perimeter wall totals 158 square feet, therefore the net useable interior total is 1,558 square feet. The detached garage is an additional 728 square feet. This plan is shown with south facing entry and east facing courtyard. Overall site plan dimensions including the garage and porches shown are 66 feet deep x 82 feet wide. This plan is optimized for a hot climate.
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