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Conceptual rammed earth home harmonizes with an Indian forest

Mumbai-based architecture firm Morphlab has unveiled designs for “Shift-ing Earth,” a luxury residence designed to harmonize with nature. Created as part of a proposed township masterplan on densely forested land in India, the design concept marries contemporary architecture with natural materials and passive solar principles. The highly geometric house would primarily use rammed earth walls with large openings for a strong indoor/outdoor relationship.

Morphlab’s renderings depict a house that mimics a rocky outcropping with asymmetrical rammed earth forms and a two-story outdoor waterfall as a focal feature next to the main entrance. Water, a major theme throughout the design, flows from the entrance waterfall to an L-shaped pool that wraps around the side of the building and culminates in a rectangular pool in the rear outdoor patio. The design would also encourage vegetation to grow in and around the home, from climbing wall vines to garden spaces, to help blur the boundary between indoors and out.

According to the architects, integrating vegetation and water features is part of an energy-efficient strategy that takes advantage of natural cooling to minimize dependence on mechanical cooling. The house’s orientation follows passive principles as well; the bedrooms face the southwest in alignment with the direction of cross breezes. Mitigation against unwanted solar gain also informed the massing. Several openings, including a large rounded skylight above the living area that takes in canopy views, frame select views of the forest.

To minimize site impact, Morphlab proposes reusing the earth excavated during the construction process for the formwork of the rammed earth walls. To protect the areas of the home most exposed to the elements, the architects have proposed wrapping those sections — including the front door and upper bedroom volume — with corten steel panels that complement the rammed earth construction while adding extra durability.

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