PACKED, PLASTERED & STONED

Packing Rammed Earth Walls

The inside of the house starts life as a sea of rubber waves. The initial ‘pack out’ of the troughs is done with a handful of cement and a bottle, followed by tonnes of adobe or lime.

For long term durability and quick drying we decided to finish all our walls with lime. Our friend Claire from Taos worked with us for a hard week of mixing and troweling, and from this experience, Adi and Sian were able to go on to plaster the entire house.

Lime (or chaux) is a traditional building material suited to damp climates and comes with a lower carbon footprint than cement. Once set, it remains permeable to moisture and can breathe, making it an ideal skin to cover our massive thermal mass walls, which would take months to fully warm up and dry out. Lime also gave us a lighter finish than adobe, but of course it is manufactured so costs more.

Stonework

We wanted the house to fit into its surroundings. If we could successfully blend modern technology like solar panels and trifold doors with traditional craftsmanship, then the design would gain more ground and local acceptance.

We’d already gone part of the way to achieving this through choosing to go for a slate and copper roof. Now we needed to come up with a suitable treatment for the east and west tyre walls as they curved out of the front face and around the ends of the berms. Help was close to hand and more excavation work soon uncovered enough stone from the old ruins to keep our masons Christophe and Justin busy for weeks.