FX Design Awards – Finalist

Clayworks Rammed Earth Finishes have been shortlisted for an FX Design Awards 2019.

The beauty and functionality of rammed earth is proving influential across the architectural and interiors world, both residential and commercial, and is a vernacular building technique that heavily influenced the founders of Clayworks who began their journey with natural building materials 20 years ago.

Back then, Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce were traveling the world to learn about the traditions of clay as a building material, while running a small company in Cornwall specialising in cob, wood, stone, clay and lime. Their vision was to explore the use of natural materials in architecture, particularly earth, as mediums to foster a balance in building that is healthy for the environment and the user, while beautiful in its design.

Combining centuries-old knowledge in earth architecture with field experimentation, modern science and testing facilities, the focus became creating and delivering easy to use, ready-mixed clay plaster finishes. This culture of learning, discovery and experimentation continues to be at the heart of the Clayworks philosophy and one of the aesthetics that has been particularly close to our hearts is Rammed Earth.

Finding inspiration from vernacular architecture around the globe and the natural world in all its organic imperfections and uniqueness in texture, shapes, forms, colours and proportions, our Rammed Earth Finishes have been created to explore endless possibilities of colours and textures. Often in response to a desire by architects and designers to replicate local geological conditions or to suggest cultural connections from Arabic, Native American, African, Moorish, Persian or Chinese vernacular architecture.

Each different finish represents an encounter with a different physical environment, a surface design that evokes a geographical and geological relationship with the natural environment. That may be grey, craggy rocks, delicate desert shades that can alternate between the soft yellows and creams of sandstone, or dramatic reds and oranges reminiscent of the southern Utah landscape.

The rammed earth finishes, just 10mm in depth, are contemporary in quality and performance, yet still exude references to thousands of years of history and tradition in traditional. architecture.

Journey of Discovery

It has taken a lot of research to find the right materials and techniques to ensure a robust and subtle material with distinctive materiality and texture. The long and difficult process, involving much experimentation, has all occurred in our workshops in Cornwall. These feel more like creative spaces from the pre-industrial world rather then a production facility that you would  expect from a company creating a ‘clean tech’ product that helps to save considerable amounts of ‘embodied carbon’, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is produced during their operation or manufacture.

Made in Cornwall from abundant raw materials, Clayworks finishes, including Rammed Earth Finishes, are blended with minimal processing, using very little energy and no water resulting in very low embodied and whole life carbon: up to 2.4kg carbon savings per meter squared compared with some wall build ups.

Because all materials are earthen, there is no waste. Hence, they are amongst the most sustainable wall finishes available. They are recyclable, compostable, re-useable, and contain no toxic ingredients or VOCs (harmful chemicals released during and after application).

Rammed Earth Finishes are also high performance. They regulate relative humidity, allow buildings to breath, and absorb toxins, odours and acoustics, they can also passively regulate temperature and are easily repaired. They are applied with the same skills and tools as other wall plasters.

It is estimated that around half of the world’s population lives, works or worships in buildings constructed of raw earth. This makes it the most ubiquitous building material on the planet. Earth building has shaped the history of architecture and is now influencing the future of design.

The materials, the details of the process and equipment have evolved and refined over time, but the principles of the technique remain unchanged. Working at the limits of the material, at the threshold of what is possible with earth plasters while staying true to their raw imperfect and natural beauty, Clayworks has applied years of expertise with clay to create these surface finishes that evoke the beauty and simplicity of one of the most evolved and sophisticated building technologies in the world.