The 18-inch-thick rammed-earth wall offers thermal benefi ts, as well as acoustic protection from a major highway at the bottom of the hill.
Douglas Kahn Photography The 18-inch-thick rammed-earth wall offers thermal benefi ts, as well as acoustic protection from a major highway at the bottom of the hill.

Architect Tom Ward chose rammed earth for its sustainability and connection to his Wyoming home's stunning locale. Built from dirt on site, the striations abstract the undulating butte where the house rests. “You have to appreciate what they did,” said a judge.

The area's seismic activity nearly nixed the wall, however. So Ward and his team developed a way to overcome instability. “Post-tensioned rammed earth is a technique we patented to provide strength to the system and meet earthquake codes,” Ward explains. The method also stands up to snow loads and gale winds. Said our judges: “It's a great way to solve the issue of rammed earth's lack of strength on lateral loads.”

Project Credits
Entrant/Architect
: Ward+Blake Architects, Jackson, Wyo.
Builder: Cox Construction, Jackson
Civil engineer: Nelson Engineering, Jackson
Living space: 3,441 square feet
Construction cost: $220 per square foot
Photographer: Douglas Kahn Photography

Product Specs
Bathroom and kitchen fittings: Dornbracht Americas; Bathroom fixtures: Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, Duravit USA; Bathroom and kitchen cabinets, doors: Willowbrook Millwork; Countertops: European Tile & Marble Design; Dishwasher: Fisher & Paykel Appliances; Exterior siding: Western Wood Products; Flooring (wood): Smith & Fong Co.; Garage doors: Wayne-Dalton Corp.; Garbage disposer: In-Sink-Erator; Hardware: SARGEANT Manufacturing Co.; HVAC equipment: Viessmann Manufacturing Co.; Insulation: Johns Manville; Kitchen fixtures: Blanco America, Kohler Co.; Lighting fixtures: Arter & Citton, BEGA/US, Cooper Lighting (Lumière), LiteTouch; Oven/range: Thermador; Paints/stains/wall finishes: Benjamin Moore & Co.; Refrigerator, wine cooler: Sub-Zero; Roofing: Dow Roofing Systems (Stevens); Windows: Kawneer North America