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Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico – Tatiana Bilbao S.C.

Built area:     3,870 sqm
Year built:     2010
Photography: Iwan Baan

As so often happens, what the clients wanted and what the they could afford didn’t meet. Rather than encouraging her clients to downsize their expectations architect, Tatiana Bilbao went searching for a cheaper building solution. The search took her to a school built from rammed earth. The use of rammed earth meant that no additional supporting structure, extra finishes or even insulation were needed thereby generating significant savings. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Lake Chapala rammed earth home
Lake Chapala rammed earth home

The decision to use rammed earth also determined the shape and proportions of the house – geometric forms aid the structural strength of the earth walls. Accordingly, the plan is a series of interconnected squares. One square contains the bedrooms and bathrooms while three others overlap to create the public areas of the home.

The walls sit on a raised concrete plinth thereby eliminating the risk of long term water damage. The roof is also concrete further increasing total durability while eliminating the normal structural material requirements of a tile or metal roof. The one thing missing, in our opinion, is a grren roof since the structure is obviously ideal for it. All it needs is a membrane and some sedum. The resulting insulation would be exceptional!

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Another interesting rammed earth home is Angles, Timber, Earth and the Ocean