MATERIAL # PREFAB & PROCESS # EARTH :: innovated rammed earth by Herzog & de Meuron for Ricola herb centre (Switz.)


herzog earth 2


More than 30 percent of the global population uses earth for building construction.

Herzog & de Meuron has completed its seventh project for Swiss herbal sweet manufacturer Ricola – a herb processing plant with rammed earthwalls in the countryside surrounding Laufen.


Unlike the earlier buildings, the herb centre is predominantly built from earth, extracted from local quarries and mines. Comprising a mixture of clay, marl and soil, this material helps to maintain a cool internal environment.

Each of the earth elements was prefabricated in a nearby factory by compacting the soil and clay mixture into a formwork. These were then layered up in blocks to form the walls.

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” Ever the material experimenters, Herzog & de Meuron chose to prefabricate panels of rammed earth in a nearby factory and have them hoisted into place by crane, rather than construct the material in situ, as is typically done. The architects also chose to incorporate lime mortar and volcanic tuff into every eighth layer of the material as way to prevent erosion. There is an obvious irony in the fact that one of the world’s most materially innovative design practices has selected one of the oldest and most common materials for its latest project. However, given the relative ignorance about rammed earth in many parts of the world today, the Kräuterzentrum serves as a welcome and inspiring example of a more environmentally sensitive architecture.” Blaine BROWNELL in

Photography is by Iwan Baan and Markus Bühler-Rasom ; credits : Ricola

herzog earth 3

herzog ricola 1


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