Wanting to show what can be achieved by using more natural/environmentally sound materials instead of the usual energy-intensive materials of steel and concrete we chose to use Earth as the main component of the building.
Cornwall has a long tradition of earth building in the form of Cob, an earth and straw mix. Although it has largely fallen out of use in the last 50 years it is seeing a renaissance now with companies like Clayworks leading the way in the design and construction of new Cob buildings as well as the restoration of old buildings.
We chose rammed earth which contains no straw and relies on the correct moisture content as we wanted the earth walls to be a maximum of 400mm thick, load baring, clean and straight. The sub-soil at Mount Pleasant is particularly good for earth building, having the right clay, sand, silt consistency.
Earth is an enjoyable material to work with and has minimal environmental impact. It is moisture and temperature regulating and offers good thermal mass. Its a great colour and texture to it and creates a very healthy and inspiring working environment.
We have the largest load bearing rammed earth structure in the UK. Other good examples of rammed earth structures in the UK are; the massive angled wall panels at the Eden Project, Cornwall. The Earth pavilion at the Genesis Project in Somerset, and the sensational newly completed curved rammed earth auditorium at the CAT centre in Wales.