A Western Australian multi-residential project by Luigi Rosselli which features the longest rammed earth wall in Australia now also lays claim to be the world’s most popular housing project for 2016.
Luigi Rosselli’s ‘The Great Wall of WA’, also known as the The Musterer's Quarters’, took out the Housing Category in Arch Daily’s 2016 Building of the Year Awards, the world’s largest annual peer-based, crowdsourced architecture awards program that claims to have polled 55,000 voters this year.
The win places the Australian architecture firm in good company as the list of category winners from the awards includes a whole host of internationally renowned architects most notably Pritzker Prize winners, Renzo Piano and Herzog & de Meuron.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWARD BIRCH
FROM THE ARCHITECT: The Musterer’s Quarters is located in a remote Pilbara cattle station of Western Australia.
The Musterer’s needed 12 small units to reside during the cattle mustering periods. The structures had to be maintenance free and require the minimal energy consumption when used or vacant.
The rammed earth wall is an excellent natural chiller, it absorbs the humidity from air and ground and release it by evaporation. The structures are prevalently not exposed to the sun heat and UV, protected from wind and cyclones, kept a constant temperature, and this will contribute to their longevity.
The sand dune arches around the back of the property and the Musterer’s Quarters follow the crest of the dune and fan out toward the view of ghost gums scattered on the river banks.
On the highest point a “chapel” dominates the musterer’s quarters, a multi purpose room imbibed of the sacred aura of the place, starting from the original owners of the site to the tombstones of the first settlers at the bottom of the hill. The same room is also a meeting point, a meditation place and a contemplative look out.
In order to counteract the severe climatic conditions of the Pilbara the decision was made to bury accommodation units into an existing sand dune.
The subterranean construction creates a thermal mass keeping the buildings cool in the daytime while the thermal mass of the soil and rammed earth wall then transfers heat into the rooms at night. Room temperature is naturally maintained, reducing the need for mechanical cooling and heating. The only external building material is rammed earth and also acts as a heat shield and increases the thermal mass with 450mm wide walls.
The rooms are designed with only one facade with any significant openings double glazed, the building, effectively buried, has minimal surface area being exposed to the elements. Glazing faces generally south with the awnings designed to protect the glazing from harsh summer sun. The smaller windows on the eastern facade have been located to capture local breezes and allow rooms to be cross-ventilated.
The materiality of the design was another consideration to the environmental footprint of the scheme as each construction material would have been transported hundreds of kilometres to site. Rammed earth was chosen as the major building material as it could be made onsite from local soil and pebbles from the local river enabling the walls to be made without any building materials coming from Perth. It also ties the structure to the earth from which it originated and is sympathetic to the local environment.
The station has access to abundant water runner under the river bed and discharging in the not too distant ocean. The earthwork to place the residences under the dune was carried with machinery already owned by the station road works and dam maintenance teams so the cost was contained and care was taken in not damaging the surrounds.
THE FULL LIST OF ARCH DAILY BUILDING OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Community Kitchen of Terras da Costa, Portugal by Ateliermob + Colectivo Warehouse. Photography by Fernando Guerra
Miu Miu Aoyama Store, Japan by Herzog & de Meuron. Photography by Nacasa & Partners
Cella Bar, Portugal by FCC Arquitectura + Paulo Lobo. Photography by Fernando Guerra
Vila Matilde House, Brazil by Terra e Tuma Arquitetos. Photography by Pedro Kok
The Great Wall of WA, Australia by Luigi Rosselli. Photography by Edward Birch
House in Guimarães, Portugal by Elisabete de Oliveira Saldanha. Photography by Fernando Guerra
Factory on the Earth, Malaysia by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates. Photography by Kaori Ichikawa
School of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweeden by Tham & Videgård Arkitekter. Photography by Åke E:son Lindman
Partners In Health Dormitory, Rwanda by Sharon Davis Design. Photography by Bruce Engel
Intesa Sanpaolo Office Building, Italy by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Photography by Enrico Cano
Harbin Opera House, China by MAD Architects. Photography by Hufton+Crow
The New Bordeaux Stadium, France by Herzog & de Meuron. Photography by Iwan Baan
House of Vans London, UK by Tim Greatrex. Image: Tim Greatrex
Ribbon Chapel by NAP Architects. Japan. Photography by Koji Fujii / Nacasa & Partners Inc