Rammed Earth “Cinders” Shelter

Jessica Martin designed a rammed-earth structure in the Arizona desert that is meant as a refuge for humans as well as for plants and animals. For her thesis project at the School of Architecture she created “Cinders” using three varieties of the local soil.

“Cinders is a homage to the immersive nature of living openly among the landscape, inviting human participants as temporary shepherds of the land – honoring and inviting interspecies cohabitation,” Martin says.

The shelter, not accessible by road, is roughly pyramidal in form with an open top and a window cut into one of the sides. At only 156 square feet (48 square meters), the structure is big enough to hold a small cot and table with some extra room to move around, as well as a small fire pit to heat the structure.

The open roof lets in light and air, while the sloped sides of the structure provide protection from the elements.

To create the structure, she mixed a combination of the Yavapai coral, Volcanic cinders and Madison gold soil varieties with cement and water to create a stratified effect. “Its materials acknowledge both the autochthonous ties to the region and the artificiality of construction,” she added. “The transience of the building itself is a conceptual focal point of the work.”

Rebar and a concrete bond beam were used to hold the stacked layers of earth in place and provide a degree of stability in the desert climate.  “Its entropic principle is of equal importance to its sturdiness – it is both a refuge and a document of decay,” Martin said. “And yet its foundations are solid, suggesting a simple, eternal form of rest and refuge.”

The top layers of the structure have been seeded with a mix of local seeds. Seeds will either germinate or be picked away as food, with both potentialities providing a “re-seeding source for future vegetation around the site”.

TSOA was founded by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Each year, students in the architecture program create a shelter for their final thesis projects. “The experience of living in the student-built shelters at Taliesen West was very memorable and formative to the process behind Cinders,” she said. “The experience revealed the nature of architecture as an extension of the skin and as extrusions of the earth, shedding, disgorging, metamorphosing.”

The photography is by Aubrey Trinnaman. You can read the original article at www.dezeen.com

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