With the proper know-how, readily available earth, sand, chalk, lime, or gravel can yield a versatile, strong, and durable construction material. Its colorful results vary from region to region, depending on the natural soil component, climate, and treatment. While some prefer to minimize any added processing, others relish the exploration of rammed earth surfaces. Different textures and mesmerizing layers of multitoned or multicolored earth can be used to create a solid surface that enriches the visual quality of a space and carries a sense of warmth to any project.
Earth: The Latest Architecture and News
Rock salt is a chemical sedimentary rock that forms through the evaporation of water, as minerals dissolve and settle down. When excavated directly from the earth, it maintains a cube-shaped crystalline form. With its diverse textures, compositions and structures, this natural element has captivated human interest for centuries. Depending on the region and environmental conditions, salt rock has been found in diverse applications in architecture, such as a construction material that uses blocks of salt to build structures, bricks, or tiles. Often translucent, these bricks allow diffused light to enter interior spaces, creating a unique atmosphere and aesthetic appeal.
Giving this ancient material a modern twist, Casalgrande Padana uses rock salt as the inspiration for its new Supreme porcelain stoneware tile collection. By replicating the colors, texture and brightness of natural sedimentary rock, this collection can be seen as a fascinating journey to discover the unique features of the center of the Earth.
"Down to Earth": The Luxembourg Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale Explores Lunar Laboratories and the New Space Race
Francelle Cane and Marija Marić have been selected to curate the Luxembourg Pavilion was unanimously selected by the jury to create at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia with an exhibition project titled "Down to Earth." The project explores the "wild imaginaries of extraction-driven growth," such as the development of human settlements on the Moon or the asteroid mining of rare minerals and metals. As the starting point for the exhibition, the team questions the impact of this new space race that promises endlessly available resources beyond the limits of Earth. The commissioner of the pavilion, the Ministry of Culture Luxembourg, has appointed Kultur|lx—Arts Council Luxembourg to produce the exhibition in cooperation with LUCA—Luxembourg Center for Architecture. The Pavilion will be open from May 20th until November 26th, 2023.
Kengo Kuma’s proposal for The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, aims to draw attention to the importance of science in archaeology, the value of its collections, and the fundamental role and character of the museum in the present and the future. As the memory of the museum is traced back, words in acts of burying, concealing, and revealing begin to emerge. These three words are pivotal transitional moments that help shape the museum into what it is today and pave the way for its future application.
The relationship between architecture and nature is complex. If, on the one hand, we enjoy framing nature as art in our homes; on the other hand, we try at all costs to avoid the presence of obstructive "real" nature in our walls and structures, which can be damaged by roots and leaves. At the same time, we use green roofs, vertical gardens and flower boxes to bring cities closer to nature and improve people's wellbeing; but we also construct buildings with materials that are completely dissociated from fauna and flora. Although the advancement of biomaterials and new technologies is gradually changing this, we should nevertheless ask ourselves whether the structures and buildings we occupy need to be separated from the nature that surrounds them. This was the question that led researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) to develop geometrically complex 3D-printed soil structures on which plants could grow freely.
Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture the City, an ambitious artwork of an extraordinary size, will begin to accept visits from the public beginning September 2, 2022. The announcement was made by the Triple Aught Foundation, the not-for-profit organization responsible for managing the long-term oversight and maintenance of Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture. The artwork, a mile and a half long and nearly half a mile wide, is located in a remote stretch of the high Nevada desert. Work on the structure began in 1972 when the artist was 27 years old.
Upon becoming a sovereign country, free from British Rule, the people of India found themselves faced with questions they had never needed to answer before. Coming from different cultures and origins, the citizens began to wonder what post-independence India would stand for. The nation-builders now had the choice to carve out their own future, along with the responsibility to reclaim its identity - but what was India's identity? Was it the temples and huts of the indigenous folk, the lofty palaces of the Mughal era, or the debris of British rule? There began a search for a contemporary Indian sensibility that would carry the collective histories of citizens towards a future of hope.
Rammed earth constructions are not a novelty, on the contrary, some sections of the Great Wall of China were made using this technique. Relegated and replaced by modern methods of construction, the mud walls are currently re-emerging as an economic, sustainable solution, with low environmental impact. Even Joelle Eyeson, a young African entrepreneur, is betting that it may be the answer to the housing deficit in her region.
This is a rudimentary construction system in which earth is compressed into wooden boxes. The clay is horizontally placed in layers of 15 cm in height, and compacted with manual or pneumatic tools, to achieve its ideal density creating a resistant and durable structure.
Vernacular techniques and local materials are becoming more and more relevant in architecture, but is it possible to bring these concepts to large urban areas?
In 1984, the Amazonian architect Severiano Porto had already pointed out the need to make architecture more connected to its location. Using local materials and techniques is becoming more important each day, considering the impacts of the commodity chain of building construction on the planet. Not surprisingly, the number of projects that use this approach is growing every day, as Severiano has already mentioned in his work since the 1980s.
The art of building a shelter made from blocks of ice is passed on from father to son among the Inuit, native peoples who inhabit the northernmost regions of the planet. The circular plan, the entrance tunnel, the air outlet and the ice blocks form a structure where the heat generated inside melts a superficial layer of snow and seals the gaps, improving the thermal insulation of ice. In a storm, an igloo can be the difference between life and death and perhaps this is the most iconic and radical example of what it means to build with local materials, few tools and lots of knowledge. In this case, ice is all you have.
Taking advantage of abundant resources and local labor are key concepts for sustainable architecture, which are often overlooked at the expense of solutions replicated from other contexts. With new demands and technologies, the globalization of building materials and construction techniques, is there still room for local materials? More specifically in relation to 3D printed constructions, are we destined to erect them only in concrete?
A recent collaboration between the team of Mario Cucinella Architects (MC A) and WASP, specialists in 3D Printing in Italy, has resulted in the first 3D-printed construction of a fully natural, recyclable, and carbon-neutral material: raw earth. The circular housing prototype is called TECLA and it was built in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna, Italy) using multiple 3D printers synchronized to work at the same time.
Created by Argentinian photographer and visual artist Federico Winer, Ultradistancia, the fine art project based on high-resolution satellite images, has released its latest series “Monsters of Mine”. Showcasing pictures of large mines from all over the world, "Monsters of Mine" reveals a fascinating carved out topography.
It's no secret that adobe is one of the most widely utilized materials in construction. For centuries, it has been the go-to material for civilizations worldwide thanks to its aesthetic qualities and durability. Today, we continue using earthen materials like adobe for a wide array of building projects; however, to obtain optimal results, one cannot ignore the art and skill required in brickmaking. For many in the trade, it's a craft that has been passed down generation after generation.
Soil is the foundation of the Earth in which we all inhabit. We grow from it, prosper from it, build upon it, pollute it, and dichotomize it. Soil is an organic material providing a sustainable base for life. Yet, polarized as degrading and dirty. How is it that soil can unite nations, yet divide people? What power does it have in cultivating the built environment and defining its boundaries?
Dichotomy invites you to define what perspective grounds you in soil. Submissions should consider soil as a response to the growth, prosperous, developable, polluted, and/or divided earth that is the foundation
The use of earth plaster is very common in natural buildings; it is the same mixture used in adobe. Though easily made, its use is not widely known. Rafael Loschiavo, from Ecoeficientes, teaches the step-by-step method for bringing a new life to a run-down wall without the need for major renovations.