The fundamentals of rammed earth construction haven't changed much in 40 years. And that might be a good thing.
Short Stack. Forms typically go up in five foot sections, allowing workers to stand inside them during compacting.
Some Assembly Required. Standard Symons concrete forms are bolted together. Soledad uses 18"-thick walls, for optimal wall performance in this region.
Muscle Work. Compacting the earth to a minimum of 300 psi is done with pneumatic tampers and a lot of hard work.
Fortress Facade. New Mexico's building code allows rammed earth walls to be left "unprotected from the elements" if the builder desires.
Fixed Framing. Wood framing attaches to the rammed earth walls with anchor bolts, set at least 12" into the compacted soil.
Southwestern Style. Soledad's rammed earth homes typically reflect the architecture indigenous to this area, with exposed vigas (timbers), tile floors, built-in fireplaces and deep niches. When installing a niche in rammed earth, the NM Code dictates that it must not exceed 1/3 the thickness of the wall. And any void wider than 2' requires a lintel. Behind the walls, wiring must be enclosed in a channel or conduit.