The Great Wall of Western Australia, possibly the longest rammed-earth wall in the southern hemisphere, winds along the edge of a sand dune and encloses 12 earth-formed residences. Created to provide short-term housing for seasonal cattle farmers, this design by is a new, eco-centered approach to remote North Western Australian architecture.
The 755-foot wall is composed of iron-rich, sandy clay found at the site and pebbles found at the adjacent river. This ancient building technique uses simple materials to create a wall 18 inches thick that blends into the landscape and provides a natural, energy-efficient cooling barrier from the scorched subtropical climate.
Each residence has a covered veranda, staggered to maximize privacy. Though contiguous on the outside, the internal dwellings are not linked. Designer Sarah Foletta used a restrained selection of natural, hardy materials and furnishings to give life to the interiors.
Sitting atop the residences is the “chapel,” a multi-functional hub and meeting room for the property. Gold anodized aluminum lines the ceiling; a glass-covered oculus adds a celestial connection to the pavilion; and curved, sliding glass doors provide protection from the region’s dust storms. [Photography by Edward Birch]