The Redwood tree is an icon of nature. But American soil has seen many other remarkable structures take root and rise; a little known one being the rammed earth building. Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of the architectural technique, dating back to 5000 BC in China. In1806, Rural Economy, by S.W. Johnson was the first book published in the U.S. on the subject. Interest eroded after WWII, when the cost of building materials dropped, and it was not considered suitable for modern construction. But rammed earth is making a modest comeback.
The NYC Dept. of Buildings is unlikely to ok plans for a rammed earth skyscraper any time soon, but Rammed Earth buildings are found on every continent, with thirty percent of the planet using earth in construction. The walls, which can include earth, chalk, lime and gravel, are easy to build, durable (with upkeep and protection from water) and have great thermal mass, making them extremely sustainable.
Brooklyn furniture designer, Aaron Mason Hauser, has studied and worked on these structures in Tennessee and Pondicherry (India). But with scare soil and space in the city, he’s turned to smaller scaled furniture and interior spaces; still drawn to the woods sustainability, and the “materials beauty and a desire to create spaces that make people feel good”. In the center piece above, Hauser creates a table to divide this small urban kitchen and living space, that functions for both a kitchen and office. The striking furniture work is made from old growth Redwood, reclaimed from dismantled mid-century pickle barrels.(photos above: Life Magazine, Aaron Hauser).