The Flamm project took the site, architecture, and detailing components of a building to their creative limits. Curve board formed concrete retaining walls at the entry and rear, and concrete planters with built-in stairs help fit the house comfortably into the site. Using a 28-foot tapered concrete tower with 11 curving glulam beams (the branches) also contributed to the feeling that the home belonged there.

Much of the concrete and rammed earth is exposed, both inside and outside the home. Fly ash was substituted for more than 25% of the portland cement for the concrete. The exposed black concrete slab with artistic brass inlays was polished to a 3000-grit low-maintenance finish.

Using a concrete post-and-beam system solved the complicated earthquake structural challenges. Blending the rammed earth in between the concrete post-and-beam system provides a texture that simulates much of the sedimentary rock formations in the area. This also provides thermal mass to stabilize the home’s temperature.

Rammed earth uses local graded and sifted earth with one and a half to two sacks of portland cement per yard, hydraulically rammed into substantial forms with some water.

The concrete tower is a key element. Besides supporting the roof, it provides a chase for the chimney pipe from the woodstove which, when running, heats up the concrete like a thermal battery. Oval openings in the tower let heat enter the living space. The reverse is true for cooling. Vents on top of the tower remove built-up heat and draw in cool ocean breezes.

View all of the 2011 GreenSite projects at