The following are just a few examples of rammed earth homes that we have built.

Picture of one of our rammed-earth houses.

Solar Design, Margaret River, Western Australia

This home was designed to maximise solar benefits in the cold Southwest climate of Western Australia. The earthy colours blend in harmoniously with the surrounding landscape, and it is this natural ability to blend in that is one of the unique features of building in rammed earth.

Picture of one of our rammed-earth houses.

Rammed Limestone, Point Walter, Western Australia

This complex of buildings on the foreshore of the Swan River at Point Walter reflects the great range and versatility of working in rammed earth; in this case, rammed limestone. The cafe / restaurant, showers, barbecues, and children's playground are all made out of rammed limestone. This is one of Perth's most used public spaces, and the rammed limestone is both robust and visually appealing.

Picture of one of our rammed-earth houses.

Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

The Visitor Information Centre and National Park Headquarters Building at Kakadu is a large rammed earth project that highlights the ability of rammed earth to be used to promote the tourism industry. The unique construction process generates its own interest and becomes part of the tourist attraction as it offers an additional and often new experience to the public. Many wineries and public buildings built by us have also used Ramtec walls with this in mind.

Picture of one of our rammed-earth houses.

Modern Design, Mandurah, Western Australia

This design illustrates the flexibility of designing and building using rammed earth construction. Various elements have been added, such as the stone fireplace and sharp, black aluminium window frames to give the home a modern, uncluttered feel. Ramtec pillars are a standard feature of many of our homes. Other rammed earth features include barrel vaults, arches, lintels, barbecues, floors, niches, and curved walls.

Picture of one of our rammed-earth houses.

Holiday Home, Eagle Bay, Western Australia

This is one of the many holiday homes that have been built in Ramtec walling by us throughout WA. By using the roof space for an extra room, we constructed a loft at minimum cost. We always try to design for the maximum useful space and practical layouts at the minimum cost for our clients.

From the earth, for the earth:

an article by Ramtec's Managing Director, Stephen Dobson.

Ramtec was formed as Australia's first rammed earth building company in Perth, Western Australia, in 1979 to not only promote the art and science of building in rammed earth but to get out there and design, engineer and build it cost-effectively. To bring rammed earth from the status of a "forgotten art", no longer practised in Australia, into the mainstream of the building industry. Ramtec rammed earth is now a modern, structural, load bearing, durable, waterproof, beautiful, artistic, breathing, green, cost-effective, environmentally-sound building material. It is widely used and respected.

Ramtec rammed earth has been used to build over 650 structures of one kind or another over a period over approximately 30 years. Structures from entry statements and signs to wineries, sheds, shops, schools, houses of all sizes and shapes, single, double and triple storeys together with "project homes", otherwise known as mass produced homes, large and small, and including the Saint Thomas Moore Cathedral in Margaret River where Ramtec built the walls in 1981. Then the biggest modern rammed earth building in Australia, it has been well and truly surpassed by other Ramtec projects. Ramtec have since built the rammed earth walls of several other major tourist icons including a large motel in the Northern Territory and the Kakadu National Park visitor centre and Park headquarters building at Jabiru, 250 km southeast of Darwin, also in the Northern Territory. A licensee of Ramtec in Queensland designed and built what currently is Australia's largest rammed earth project, the Kooralbyn Valley Hotel, near to Beaudesert where Ramtec trained the Architects and their workers, provided equipment and technology and then sent a foreman, recruited and trained and empowered by Ramtec Perth, to take charge of the project, together with 10 Western Australian trained skilled masons and tonnes of Ramtec equipment, to get the walls built to the right quality, at the right price and on time.

There is an inherent attraction of rammed earth walls to most humans. Nearly everyone who sees a rammed earth wall, and almost certainly those seeing one for the first time, walks up to it and touches it or rubs it, since it is such a tactile material. Most people comment on the attractiveness of the look and feel of a rammed earth wall. When walls are being built and the raw earthen materials are laid out on site most people find it staggering that such plain simple earthen materials can be built into such dense, hard, strong stone-like walls and into a completed building that is totally functional, waterproof, structural and extremely long-lasting. Children on building sites run for the piles of earth as soon as they see them on the site which tells one instinctively that people like to touch the earth from such an early age. Seeing children play in on piles of raw building materials on a construction site indicates that they have an attraction to the raw material and also to the finished product constructed from the earth.

Human occupation in earth-dug caves has been dated back more than 50,000 years, and occupation of earthen buildings to nearly as long ago. Currently, some 50 percent of the world's 6 billion people people still live in unfired earth dwellings. Unfired earth has stood the test of time – it is tried and proven, and rammed earth is a modern and viable construction system using the medium of unfired earth. The managing director of Ramtec has personally seen thousands of rammed earth buildings, two and three storeys high (all over 200 years old) in areas of Europe. In areas of France including Dijon and Lyon to the south, the bulk of all old houses are made from rammed earth and most are still successfully occupied today even though all being well over a century in age. They were built with local materials and they last and last. Whilst most other modern buildings built with other modern factory produced materials are generally budgeted to last for 70 years, rammed earth buildings can be expected to last for hundreds of years. History has proven that rammed earth buildings are extremely durable.

If you are considering not building in rammed earth, then you should take the trouble to ask the manufacturer of your home the longevity of buildings of a similar material to what is proposed, preferably spanning several centuries.

With the so-called modern technology age and the days of modern material production, with factory production for most things, well and truly upon us we have become quite distanced from the earth, leading an almost separate life, or escapist life from it. However now with the move towards more sustainable dwellings, less greenhouse emissions, smaller ecological footprint... rammed earth buildings have all the qualities we are seeking. There is a new move back to the earth.

From the earth, for the earth.

The advantages of rammed earth are numerous with materials generally available on site or close by. Natural earthen materials, the colour of the surrounding landscape, are generally used. The true colours of Australia. Rammed earth walls are made from natural earthen materials, thus the walls can and do change colour with the changing light conditions. Much the same as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Olgas in central Australia which change colour dramatically with differing light conditions throughout the day, then so too can your Ramtec rammed earth walls change colour. Sunrise, midday, sunset, your Ramtec house can be a totally different experience.

Rammed earth has exceptional strength, durability, and fantastically high thermal mass to moderate the fluctuations in temperature. Ramtec rammed earth is likely the most cost-effective source of high thermal mass walling material currently available in the building market in Australia. The thermal flywheel effect is well known to all occupants of rammed earth buildings not only today, but also over the centuries and gives a very comfortable living environment. Rammed earth has also been used for its low allergen properties and to produce truly healthy homes.

Rammed earth, as currently constructed, generally contains a small amount of cement to give even longer durability and even greater strength and to assist in gaining approvals to build all manner of engineered structures in all corners of Australia.

Ramtec have successfully designed, engineered and built homes and other structures in earthquake areas (near to the most severe earthquake areas in Australia, toward Meckering in Western Australia), cyclonic wind areas (within the most severe cyclonic areas in Australia, at Darwin and surrounds, also in Broome and surrounds, as well as along the 80 Mile Beach in the northwest of Western Australia and in Exmouth) and on problem clay sites (such as would make conventional brick building non-viable, achieved by the articulated masonary panels that Ramtec developed as a world first and which still are are a feature of the Ramtec system). It was in Darwin in 1976, after Cyclone Tracy that Engineer Stephen Dobson, who founded Ramtec, built the first modern rammed earth home in Australia... modern in its design (being designed by Gold Coast award-winning Architect Paul Cook and Engineered by Perth Award winning Engineer Peter Airey) and built to meet the Darwin Area Building Code which was then the toughest Building Code in Australia. In subsequent years Ramtec went on to buld many houses; a motel at Mataranka near Katherine, a School, a Visitor Information Centre and a Park Headquarters Building for Kakadu National Park together with various park signage. These projects were scattered throughout the Northern Territory of Australia, including Alice Springs and Darwin, and most places in between.

In Western Australia the number and breadth of projects is even greater. Ramtec have had sales and operations offices in Perth, Margaret River, Darwin and Broome over the years. Ramtec's main office is now in Perth. Ramtec have had an office in the same Perth street for over 30 years.

Back to our amazing product: Rammed earth is naturally sun dried.

Whilst aluminium may be considered as congealed electricity (due to the astronomical quantities of it required to refine aluminium), so too can fired clay bricks be considered as fused energy due to the enormous amount of energy required to fire them. The amount of embodied energy in products such as fired clay bricks and aluminium is quite scary given that we are clearly in a world of depleting energy resources and excessive energy use. It has been widely reported that the embodied energy in a house can represent half of the energy used by that house over its lifetime.

By comparison, the energy taken to create a rammed earth home is less than forty percent of the energy to create a traditional fired clay brick home. Some commentators give the embodied energy of rammed earth as over 100% less than the same mass/volume of fired clay brick. Only now with accounting being called for, of embodied energy and greenhouse gases release and the legal implementation of "carbon credit" schemes for products do we have some established major manufacturers (including aluminium manufacturers) saying that some of their products are no longer financially or practically viable. With their demise we should see the rise of "new" viable products such as Ramtec walls.

When all the oil and gas is gone from our planet, some wise sage will ask as to why such a precious resource was so wastefully used to fire clay bricks (and not saved) when there was a perfectly good sun-dried material available to produce a perfectly good building system, known as rammed earth. This will be hard to answer. To say that nobody thought of rammed earth or to say that rammed earth was not as widely known in our society as it should have been, will be seen as a weak reply. We must think of the future and choose long-lasting environmentally sound products, such as the Ramtec system, for our housing stock and for general building so that we are not seen as stupidly wasteful by future generations.

Think of your children's future by building them a Ramtec home, not just to help save the world's energy supplies now and to lessen their environmental footprint now, but also to give them a home which will last for their children as well.

Ramtec: saving the planet, one home at a time.

Ramtec rammed earth walls have a great feel to them, and the buildings made from rammed earth have a calming attractive and wonderful ambience. Ask any occupant of a Ramtec home.

Ramtec rammed earth walls have been said to radiate energy by some, and one wall builder working for Ramtec said "The energy which we create in these walls will radiate out from them for many years to come." On another occasion on another site, another worker said "I am building these walls, these beautiful walls of a beautiful house, my convictions, aspirations, and ideals as to what a home should be ... my heart is in these walls." It has been said of Ramtec homes that they give the occupants a feeling of calmness, tranquillity and peace. Feelings of "good vibrations" emanating from the walls have been regularly reported.

It is however a fact that once you have lived in a Ramtec rammed earth house then you never go back to living in a conventional house. History has proven this to be true. There is good reason for that. Ramtec, based on ancient technology but still relevant today. Ramtec, ancient yet relevant.

22nd April, 2008

Want to read more?
Read Stephen Dobson's Keynote Speech at Terra 2000 in Torquay, England.
Download Stephen Dobson's Keynote Speech at EBAA 2009.