The benefit of regional resources
Sustainability represents the responsible use of resources – resources that differ from region to region. Resources in the Palatinate Forest, in the south-west of Germany, include the vast forests and the red sandstone that can be seen in many places. In the House of Sustainability, you can discover a lot more about the region, about sustainability, and about how both come together in building with wood and clay earth.
Learning with a rammed earth backdrop
When you enter the single-storey building with its grass-covered roof, you are met with the impressive sight of a rammed earth wall, up to four meters tall at points. This entryway wall alone can teach you a good deal about sustainable building.
The rammed earth wall with the conspicuous stratification in yellow and red tones evokes the geology of the Palatinate Forest, which is characterized by layers of red sandstone earth. The earthen-clay wall not only forms the back of the foyer and the souvenir shop but is also clearly visible in the seminar room.
The majority of the opposite outer wall of the foyer is made of glass. This creates a bright and friendly atmosphere – and contributes to the passive use of solar energy and thus to active energy savings. Especially in winter, the low angle of the sun shines through the south-facing glass facade and warms the room.
Since clay is a good heat store and regulator, it supports passive air conditioning. The heat from the sun is stored in the rammed earth wall and gradually released into the room. It also works the other way around. If the room is ventilated at night in summer, the clay earth cools down and thus prevents the room from overheating.
Take a glimpse at the region
The rammed earth wall is a creative interpretation of both sustainability and regional representation. Other walls are made of oak, pine, douglas fir and sandstone, also all regional materials. The entire building sees itself as a “showcase of the region”.
For tourists and visitors, the exhibits and events provide opportunities to learn more about how to make your everyday life more sustainable. The design by the architectural office Rabaschus und Rosenthal is a successful example of modern ecological construction. Regional building materials such as wood and clay earth are equally important as designing for passive and active use of solar energy.
“Wood plus sandstone plus clay earth plus sun – and the house of sustainability is finished. The pleasant atmosphere of the house triggers positive feelings in most of our guests”, promises Michael Leschnig, head of the House of Sustainability.
Photo 1: ©Landesforsten.RLP.de/Thomas Koculak
Photo 2: ©Landesforsten.RLP.de/Marquart
Photo 3: ©Landesforsten.RLP.de/Ohler
Photo 4 & Photo 5: ©Landesforsten.RLP.de/Achim PeraboRead more »
Tradition meets technology – with Claytec
Rammed earth is one of the most original processing techniques for earthen clay. The clay earth is layered in formwork and compacted. This process creates the characteristic horizontal stripes.
Clay earth has a range of natural colours. Four different Claytec clay colours were used in the wall of the House of Sustainability. The rammed earth wall is a wonderful example of how these colour variations can be used to create design effects.
As a building component of the House of Sustainability, the rammed earth wall was subject to strict structural requirements. Thermal bridges between interior and exterior sections of the wall had to be prevented to preserve the interior climate of the house. This was achieved through the insulation of the wall core using wood-fibre boards. Fabric was incorporated to act as further reinforcement. Insulation of the wall’s concrete foundation with foam glass serves as protection against rising damp.
The statically necessary concrete support columns were integrated into the wall and are not visible. A concrete lintel, that is clearly separated from the wall, on the other hand, shows that the wall has no load-bearing function.
Joint cooperation for the construction of the rammed earth wall, by Claytec with the participation of students from the University of Kaiserslautern – and was completed, incidentally, before the rest of the wooden house was built around it.