The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli Pty Ltd

The great wall of wa / luigi rosselli pty ltd
© Edward Birch

Project Details:
Location: North Western Australia
Type: Residential
Architects: Luigi Rosselli Architects
Design Architect: Luigi Rosselli
Project Architects: Kristina Sahlestrom, Edward Birch, David Mitchell
Interior Designer: Sarah Foletta 
Builder: Jaxon Construction
Rammed Earth Contractor: Murchison Stabilised Earth Pty Ltd
Structural Consultant: Pritchard Francis
Environmental Consultant: Floyd Energy
Photographs: Edward Birch

The longest rammed earth wall in Australia and – probably – the southern hemisphere, has been selected as a finalist in the (Australian Institute of Architects) Western Australia architecture awards.

The great wall of wa / luigi rosselli pty ltd
Rammed earth extracted from the local clay pans, pebbles and gravel quarried from the river bed are the palette of materials that blend into the landscape. The pavilion at the top is the multi-functional hub, meeting room and chapel // © Edward Birch

At 230 metres long, the rammed earth wall meanders along the edge of a sand dune and encloses twelve earth covered residences, created to provide short-term accommodation for a cattle station during mustering season. With their 450mm thick rammed earth facade and the sand dune to their rear and forming their roofs, the residences have the best thermal mass available, making them naturally cool in the subtropical climate.

The great wall of wa / luigi rosselli pty ltd
The oval chapel overlooks a family cemetery and ghost and river gums that line the riverbank in the background // © Edward Birch

The rammed earth wall (construction) is composed of the iron rich, sandy clay that is a dominant feature of the site, gravel obtained from the adjacent river and (bonded with) water from the local bore (hole).

The great wall of wa / luigi rosselli pty ltd
Gold annodised aluminium sheets line the ceiling of the ‘chapel’, cyclonic rated, curved sliding windows can close the pavilion to protect its interior from dust storms // © Edward Birch

The design of the accommodation represents a new approach to remote North Western Australia architecture, moving away from the sun baked, thin corrugated metal shelters to naturally cooled architectural earth formations.

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