Helio-Terra is a rammed earth construct that depicts the solar rhythm specific to Moscow, Idaho. The installation is situated on the Southern edge of the Wren Welcome Garden located at the intersection of State Highways 8 and 95. The Installation falls along the axis of the park and serves as a visual anchor and gateway into the Town of Moscow. Helio-Terra is a mass of locally quarried earth that is compacted into a form resembling a seed. The geometry of artwork is gesture towards the agricultural heritage of Moscow, as well as the grain towers that flank the site. The seed is a concentration of nutrient that gives forth the energy necessary to yield future sustenance, and thus serves as a metaphor for the community of Moscow. Helio-Terra strikes a direct connection between the sun and the harvest. The installation highlights the furthest reaches of the sun along the horizon and depicts solar-rhythmic seasonal crests that have served as anchors for farmers for thousands of years.
Constructed from stabilized rammed earth, Helio-Terra easily reaches compressive strengths to that of concrete, yet utilizes a fraction of the embodied energy. The form is compiled in thin 5 inch lifts of an earth mix containing varying degrees of iron-oxide. The varying color lifts of earth result in a dramatic and dynamic effect that mirrors that of the rolling hills of the Palouse. Also like the landscape of the region the artwork becomes a canvas for shifting light and color as the sun traverses the sky. The artwork has concave cavities varying in degree of aperture that correspond to solar orientation. These apertures shift between shadow and radiance with shifting light. The project concept is expandable to incorporate future development and to increase the desire for a collective artwork that served as a visual anchor and gateway.
Helio-Terra is an original and unique design for the City of Moscow created by Robert M Horner. It will be constructed in partnership with Bly Windstorm of Earthdwell LTD, a licensed Rammed Earth builder and president of NAREBA (North American Rammed Earth Builders Association). With a past of successful collaborations, RMH Design and Earthdwell bring the necessary skills and experience to complete this project on time and budget.
Rammed Earth is a well graded mixture of subsoils with an appropriate amount of silt and clay and a small amount of Portland cement to provide the necessary strength to meet engineering requirements as well as to provide protection from the elements. Naturally occurring iron oxides are added to the mix to provide a range of colors. The resulting walls are beautiful and completely non toxic. The walls are fully reinforced with steel rebar and are engineered to withstand the tremendous forces that accompany an earthquake.
The foundation of the Artwork will be reinforced concrete. The steel reinforcing and the concrete will be sourced locally in the Moscow area, and will be constructed to seamlessly tie into the rammed earth. The Rammed Earth forms for the installation will be milled and constructed in Port Townsend, WA and will arrive on site in summer 2012. The rammed earth will be sealed to prevent staining and ensure an extended life. The artwork will stand for hundreds of years with minimal weathering reflecting the integrity of the agricultural community and the important relationship between the sun, earth and harvest.