Transparent Rammed Earth

Last winter while discussing my thesis ideas with a professor, she stopped the conversation, sat upright, and announced, as myself, “I am Meghan, and I will make transparent rammed earth.” At the time, I was switching from looking at cob to rammed earth because of its inherently more architectural qualities in regards to the modern tradition and discourse (this probably deserves a posting in itself).  I was also holding onto the general ‘ethereal essence’ I enjoy extracting from places, materials, and events in life, and realized a layering of transparency contains a rich vocabulary in producing this sort of effect.  Rammed earth being diametrically opposed to such effects could indeed be considered its beauty, I believe so at least – a CLICK for more


I wanted to test out the new dirt my friend and I collected as well as the light penetration studies I hoped to implement.  The light effects are super cool, and the dirt is surprisingly sandy – as in, not native Cincinnati dirt, which is more clay than anything.  I may need to do more mixing, but I need more dirt anyway so maybe the two sources will even out.  I received an email from my craigslist ad weeks ago asking for dirt.  I like when aspirations seem to align like that! Here are some photos from my first sample endeavors. it is beautiful.


beginnings of the thesis project

Here it is, the end of January, and it feels like spring!  That means it’s warmer in Cincinnati‘s winter than San Francisco’s summer. I’ve already had so much help from friends and acquaintances with the start of my new rammed earth project.  A big thanks goes to my friend Chris for his strength in moving most of my dirt up to our obsolete courtyard. My newest rammed earth endeavors involve incorporating this primitive, raw building technique into modern society.  My project scenario is a community farm in Silicon Valley, so there is a strong connection not just to modernity, but high technology research and business.  A goal is to cut out the middle-man that is normative design and industrially manufactured, unsustainable building CLICK for more



The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor.  It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the hing that it makes and the user of the made thing.  Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sory of religious humility, for not everything is known.  Good work can be defined only in partcularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers CLICK for more


rammed earth : final photos

[slideshow] I’m back in Ohio now, thousands of miles from my rammed earth sculptural wall in Sunnyvale, California.  I went back to the farm a couple days after I finished, the day before I left the state, to do some cleanup and documenting.  I was greeted by the encouraging staff of Full Circle Farm, without whom I could not have completed the project. We all eventually made our way to the wall where I could get some good photos of the wall ‘in action.’  I thought an old professor of mine would be proud of the shelter it provided for the dog in our company. While cleaning up, there were a few classes that came to the farm from the CLICK for more


rammed earth viii

Final day! [slideshow] Being the 3rd day in a row of hard manual labor, I was quite ready to finish the project.  This was the last day I was able to work before packing to drive back to Ohio for grad school.  I was less enthusiastic this day because I had no assistance organized, so I had a time limit and anticipated just getting as much completed as possible. I had to make a design decision regarding the corner’s treatment.  With a dimishing supply of soil, sand, time, and energy, if I wasn’t going to make a complete 6’x1.5’x3′ section, I needed to decide what exactly to do.  I decided on making a full height section about 18″ across, then CLICK for more