Archive for the ‘Coastal Rammed Earth’ Category

by Paul Rose

While concrete has become the go-to resource for most all structural mass paul-roseprojects, Rammed-earth provides many more attributes that are aesthetic, thermal and structural. We use Rammed-earth methods in several ways:



Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth (PISE), which is similar to a “shot-cretOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe” application on a swimming pool. Stabilized earth is applied under great force to a one-sided formwork and around the re-enforcing steel. This leaves a smooth finish on the form side, with a course granular texture on the outside.


Conventional Rammed-earth, is installed between two forms and hydraulically impacted with tam01Earthen Prodping machines. This style leaves a finish that is smooth on both sides with a layered pattern similar to sedimentary stone. Both of these styles achieve a compressive strength of over 600 pounds per square inch.


Watershed block is a formed block similar to the common concrete block, but has a very 02Earthen Prodlow carbon footprint, and a dramatic visual appeal. These blocks come in a number of different colors and textures, fitting into the conventional structural mindset of many engineers. Watershed block requires less labor and specific knowledge for correct installation than PISE or conventional rammed-earth.


Much research has been made into where these materials originated and their future use.  Concrete has one of the largest carbon footprints in the construction industry, and is not a justifiable solution as a long-term product.

This article about the Egyptians’ method for building the pyramids is recommended for a new perspective on this old material.

As the art and form of building has changed over the years, we at Semmes and Company Builders, Inc. would like to help you build a lasting project for today and tomorrow.

Check out these architectural renderings and the finished product. You can dream it up ~ we can build it!








The owners are moved in and the photovoltaic panels are on line.You will notice the plants and trees in the concrete planters around the wet bar add a nice softening touch. Cutting edge glass and insulation technologies keep this hilltop home nice and warm during windy winter storms.  More photos to come as the tricky exterior glass awning structure receives it’s final touches.






Wow, the coastal Rammed earth is beautiful! Finally all the glass is in and there is some landscaping beginning. There are going to be many beautiful pictures to follow, but here are a couple of what you would see from the south side. One is of the office space above the garage, and the other is of the entrance between the office and the home. The glass in these southern elevations is an innovative product that has an exceptionally high insulation value.  Yes there are still a couple of ladders hanging around as there is a whole canopy being built over the entrance way, and one connecting the “roller coaster” beam to the office, The canopy over the entrance is going to be opaque Photovoltaic panels which will not only be power producing but provide a light shading as well. Keep an eye out for more pictures as this moves along.


Hey friends, you should see this Coastal Rammed Earth project coming together. The owners will be moving in soon and the finishes are coming together. The concrete floors have been ground to a fine polish with the aggregate exposed, the cabinets, glass, tile and other finish work are getting near completion. Keep your eyes here for more great shots to come.




As you can see this Costal Rammed Earth project is moving into finishes! The photos are of a few of the professionals working on this project, it is truly a work of many! From master carpenters, Roofers, tile setters, steel fabricators, cabinet builders, concrete polishers…………. The list goes on and on! Thanks all for your efforts to get this amazing project completed. The exterior steel decking is almost all in place as well as the rails. Inside the concrete floors are getting polished, drywall plastered, and cabinets are being set.



The project on the hill is getting its final shape. Toasts are in order as we have finally set the last Glue Lam and will have the roof frame completed in a couple of weeks. The last Earth has been Rammed and the first glass will be installed the first week of November………………………….. Pretty amazingly shaped beam isn’t it??



One of the unique aspects with this project is the fact that we are completing the roof before we cast the floor and then we will build the walls between. The lighting, fire sprinklers, low voltage wiring etc. are all placed in the roof and below the slab, then we will connect the dots…………………….. The end result will be amazing!


The garage columns are poured and we are done tying the re-enforcing steel, so off we go ……………Forming for the second phase of Rammed Earth

Concrete flatwork out back, slab set up Utilities in the roofing……………. Things are moving along well. We have set all the Glu-lams in the Main portion of the home, and sheeted them. We are now moving to installing the overlaid roof framing, ceiling utilities & exterior decks. This photo of the hanging of the Glu-lams at the central column shows some of the craftsmanship necessary to install these 1000 pound beams. Of course all the notching in the bottom of these will be filled and sanded flush, wait to see it then!