An Earth Pavilion for the Sitterwerk


The rammed earth construction reveals here its properties in the primitive form of the wall. The project develops the condition of being between two earth walls with the necessities of having a static system that allows a flexible use of space and light. This flexibility answers to the different needs of the Sitterwerk with its varieties of program coexisting on the same campus (production, exhibition, administration and housing).


A prefabricated hybrid module that combines earth and concrete is a constructive response that allows the composition of a dynamic facade coherent to the inner needs. The disposition of these modules has an analogy with the mesh of a fabric. The concrete component gives a clear hosting position for the beams.

In the construction of the walls itself resides a big potential for innovation. In order to accelerate the process of drying, sometimes problematic in the earth construction, the two levels can be produced at the same time. The bottom one can be directly rammed of the foundations while the top one, consisting of prefabricated modules, can be rammed besides and assemble in a second time.

The link between the traditional and the prefabricated part is going to be built out of Trasskalk (volcanic concrete). Besides the connection of the materials it’s also a static solution. It’s placed on precise points where the rammed earth is weaker. It allowed also an additional floor if needed. The two different materials act together as a single system.

The vertical separations between the prefabricated elements follow a regular rhythm along the building and give also a uniform natural light to the inside. By alternating void and mass in a dense combination we avoid the implementation of vertical joints and therefore save lot of time usually consecrated to the joints retouching.

Due to it’s potential the earth pavilion is going to be built by the office Boltshauser Architekten in Zürich with the help of students. A one-to-one Mockup is under construction, as a prototype for a new constructive system. It should bring new and innovative implementations to the research for prefabricated earth construction.


To be continued


Yannick Claessens and Mattia Pretolanix