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Project: "EarthWall 2"
Company:Ward Blake Architects
Designer(s): Ward Blake Architects, United States
Category: Architecture Categories, Professional
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Entry Description: Taking cues from its flat open surrounds, the EarthWall 2 Residence is as much a nod to its plane-like site as a product of it. As an unabashed groundscraper, the home’s sod-covered roofline and low sloping sheds reinforce the horizontality of the site while deemphasizing the 6,000- square-foot volume. Composed of the Architect’s patented “EarthWall” (post-tensioned rammed earth construction), the earthen walls literally rise from the soil that was used in their construction and relate the building to its natural environment while absorbing solar energy. The rammed earth walls also create datum lines acting as part of the organizing principal of the floor plan. Transparency of design is achieved on multiple levels: Large glass elevations that open the structure to the outdoors are paired with continuous poured concrete floors that seamlessly flow from patio to interior, blurring the inside/outside distinction. An environmentally responsive design, the structure is oriented to maximize solar gain through its energy efficient windows, thermal mass walls, and the concrete floor slabs that absorb solar radiation. The building’s passive solar design is coupled with other green energy features such as a closed loop ground source heat pump that circulates water through 7’-0” deep heat fields at both ends of the house that utilize the earth’s energy to heat and cool the house. In addition, reclaimed building materials such as douglas fir (from an old barn) used for soffits and ceilings throughout the house, as well as reclaimed stone (from an old school house) used for the fireplaces enforce the client’s desire to reduce the environmental impact of the building footprint. Simplicity of design combined with naturally aging materials and integrated plantings make this house fit beautifully within the changing seasons of its environment.

About the Designer/Company
Ward + Blake Architects was built on a distinctive vision: be provocative in thought, flexible in nature, and disciplined in execution. Since 1996, Ward + Blake have been creating spaces that reference the land and the history of the region while also embracing cutting-edge construction materials and techniques. We have created a working environment where the powers of innovation, smart building and creativity flourish. Our firm is composed of twelve trained professional people including four Licensed Architects, six Intern Architects, an Interior Designer and an Office Manager. Ward+Blake Architects is organized horizontally rather than vertically, which is to say that we realize our design work utilizing the strengths of our staff members at all phases of the project. This horizontal stratification allows the principals to be involved from schematic design through construction documents, ensuring that design goals remain in focus and project objectives are obtained. Ward + Blake believes that architecture should respond to its particular place and be a natural partner with the environment. The firm’s designs evolve from an appreciation for pragmatic solutions within the honesty of modernism. By working within the context of our rich environment and applying sustainable strategies to a wide variety of building types and project scopes, Ward + Blake designs architecture that conserves energy and natural resources while creating high performance buildings and healthy environments for the buildings occupants. We listen carefully to the desires, goals and program of our clients. Ward + Blake has an excellent track record averaging less than 1% change orders on our commercial and educational projects.