When architects Equipo de Arquitectura began the creative process of designing their own office called Earth Box, they set themselves the challenge of experimenting with available and recovered materials such as rammed earth, recycled glass and formwork wood.
The biophilic office design was designed to minimise the impact it would have on the site’s existing trees, so the structure was configured around them. One tree sits just outside the building and is framed by a huge skylight which wraps down the wall, providing dappled views of the greenery and ever changing shadows on the walls. The second tree, a guavirá, takes pride of place inside the office space, enclosed by glazed walls and grows up through the building. The trees location provides a deliniation between the open plan kitchen and the workspace, and it’s a stunning view to rest your eyes upon throughout the day. This is biophilic design at it’s best!
Biophilic design is also said to lower stress levels, improve mental health and reduce mental fatigue so it’s a worthy consideration in any office design, or in any design project.
Reliance on artificial lighting is significantly lowered as the office space is flooded with natural light from the wrapped skylight and the light well. The architectural practice have a fascination with the play of natural light in a space and say “We work with matter, we transform it and we have it in different ways to create spaces. We treat light as a material that intensifies and shapes not only space, but the materials that create it.”
In keeping with the intent to use recovered materials, the formwork wood used to create the concrete floor slab has been repurposed into offices furniture and doors. The simplicity of that idea is so inspiring and it shows that financial limitations don’t place any boundaries on creativity.
Rammed earth construction has many advantages, aside from looking beautiful, it can provide fantastic thermal mass, controls temperature and acoustics, is structurally strong, durable and low maintenance. Because of the beauty of the tactile natural finish, no additional finishes, wall lining or cladding is required which saves money and reduces the amount of materials required.
Related project: If you like rammed earth, take a look at House in Cunha by Arquipelago Arquitetos
– Rammed earth building
– Natural lighting provided by skylight and light well
– Biophilic design provides visual access to trees and the sky
– Formwork wood reused from the pouring of the concrete slab
– Recycled glass was used
Dreams + Needs + Available Resources = Project
The 0.30 concrete floor mud walls support the weight of the slab, which rests on 20 cm of the wall, without any anchoring or tie-down, taking advantage of the structural qualities of the material. The remaining 10 cm are on the outside, to hide the slab, delimiting the exterior only with the walls.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.