The Great Wall of WA - 230 Metres of Rammed Earth Wall

The longest rammed earth wall in Australia and - probably - the southern hemisphere, has been selected as a finalist in the (Australian Institute of Architects) Western Australia architecture awards.

Rammed earth extracted from the local clay pans, pebbles and gravel quarried from the river bed are the palette of materials that blend into the landscape.  The pavilion at the top is the multi-functional hub, meeting room and chapel. © Edward Birch

At 230 metres long, the rammed earth wall meanders along the edge of a sand dune and encloses twelve earth covered residences, created to provide short-term accommodation for a cattle station during mustering season.

With their 450mm thick rammed earth facade and the sand dune to their rear and forming their roofs, the residences have the best thermal mass available, making them naturally cool in the subtropical climate.

The awning roof is a Cor-Ten steel cyclonic shade frame, mirrored by a concrete slab on (the) ground.  The concrete slab contains gravel and aggregates from the local river, which lend a reddish colour to its polished surface. © Edward Birch

The rammed earth wall construction is composed of the iron rich, sandy clay that is a dominant feature of the site, gravel obtained from the adjacent river and bonded with water from the local bore hole. 

The design of the accommodation represents a new approach to remote North Western Australia architecture, moving away from the sun baked, thin corrugated metal shelters to naturally cooled architectural earth formations.    

Location: North Western Australia
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Project Architects: Kristina Sahlestrom, Edward Birch, David Mitchell
Interior Designer: Sarah Foletta
Builder: Jaxon Construction   

Rammed Earth Contractor: Murchison Stabilised Earth Pty Ltd
Structural Consultant: Pritchard Francis   
Environmental Consultant: Floyd Energy   

Landscaping: Tim Davies Landscaping  
Photography: Edward Birch