Submerged below a sandy financial institution and enclosed by a zigzagging rammed-earth wall, these twelve subterranean rooms supply temporary accommodation for cowboys on an Australian cattle station .
Sydney company Luigi Rosselli Architects was asked to develop the housing for seasonal personnel, who herd cattle off the open ranch into pens for periodical sorting, transportation and remedy.
The row of individual residences sits behind a 230-metre-long wavy facade made from compacted earth, which the architects declare is the longest rammed-earth wall in Australia. They named the project The Excellent Wall of WA following its length and spot in West Australia (WA).
The zigzagging wall wraps around the en-suite bedrooms, which are set at an angle beneath a bank of sand. This sandy roof, coupled with the 4.5-centimetre-thick facade, provides a naturally cooled retreat from the heat of the sun.
“The rammed-earth wall meanders along the edge of a sand dune and encloses twelve earth-covered residences, designed to offer quick-phrase accommodation for a cattle station for the duration of mustering season,” said Rosselli.
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“The layout of the accommodation represents a new technique to remote north-western Australia architecture, moving away from the sun-baked, thin corrugated metal shelters to naturally cooled architectural earth formations.”
The layers of compressed earth that make up the wall are noticeable across both the exterior and interior of the residences. Its red colouring comes from the locally sourced clay, which is bound with each other with gravel from the bed of an adjacent river and water from a neighborhood bore hole.
Rammed earth is 1 of the oldest building materials, but it is currently seeing a revival in tasks ranging from a sweet factory by Herzog de Meuron to a Melbourne equestrian centre featuring a horse paddling pool and a visitor’s centre for Britain’s Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The shape of the outer wall affords residents a degree of privacy and shade from their neighbours. Every unit has its personal private terrace sheltered beneath a bronzed metal awning, and a shared backyard.
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A belt of grass runs along the front of the residences and onto the roof, distinguishing the grounds from the parched landscape.
A little oval pavilion stands on the roof of the housing, supplying a meeting area for the ranch hands that also doubles up as a chapel. A household cemetery is dug into the hillside just under the construction.
The pavilion’s Corten steel roof and thick rammed-earth walls protect the elevated framework from dust storms, while curved windows open onto a terrace overlooking the ranch.
Like the walls, the concrete floor slab contains gravel aggregate from the river, making a russet surface that tones with the rammed earth and the wider landscape.
Within, sheets of gold-anodised aluminium radiate out from a circular skylight in the apex of the roof and dark timber planks line the walls.
Photography is by Edward Birch.
Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Undertaking architects: Kristina Sahlestrom, Edward Birch, David Mitchell
Interior designer: Sarah Foletta
Builder: Jaxon Construction
Structural advisor: Pritchard Francis
Environmental consultant: Floyd Power
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