Journey into the Earth


Experiencing EARTHBOX

An unmatched experience that guides guests through a world of artistry, ancient geology, and landscape engineering has taken Lourensford Wine Estate to an unprecedented new level. This underground structure known as EARTHBOX offers the chance to travel through layers of time to explore the world beneath us – a first of its kind by experiential studio The Dream Commission. An inspired new take on consumer engagement, EARTHBOX is reinventing the industry’s understanding of consumer-centric design.

EARTHBOX was designed by Founder and Director of The Dream Commission Marina Busse and Creative Director Brad Baard as a temporary structure to grant visitors a glimpse of history as etched in the earth’s walls under Lourensford Wine Estate. Their challenge was to create this unconventional experience, doing no more and no less than would help deliver an immersive experience of unhindered contact with ancient raw earth. This would be realised through a chamber of 24 x 5 m with exposed raw earth walls. Given the temporary nature of the project, the team also needed to understand how everything would be removed and then be repurposed or reused in some way after the experience reached its end date, such as the reuse of components like steel roof trussing as part of remediating the site in the future.

Entrance to EARTHBOX Chamber
Born again

A sensory immersion

The ultimate purpose of the space is to allow for an immersive, sensory human experience – a visceral, physical connection with oneself and the earth. EARTHBOX invites people to feel the effect on their being as they walk into a very dimly lit raw earth chamber and down a long, curved ramp. It’s a space that invites calm and contemplation as an antidote to an increasingly technologically-driven world and the loudest time in history. Along with a connection to the earth, the space also invites connection with others, facilitated through the events programme EARTHBOX Music: Sunday Sessions and the Chef Series, where rising talents are invited into the space to connect with the audience and guests in a very intimate and magical way.


Earth: The hero

The prime material and the hero of EARTHBOX is, of course, earth itself. The 360-degree feature walls that surround visitors in the chamber are made from pure earth — specifically, reworked residual Malmesbury soil, with transported soils above that. The build and design were entirely planned around keeping the lower section of the excavation raw, uncovered, unmediated, and intact.

The beauty of the earth’s layers was continuously revealed throughout the process; yellow ochre clay near the surface, red dappled lateritic soils deeper down, prehistoric pebble beds, and gullies carved through them. Expert colour consultation with artist Nathan Honey yielded a sympathetic colour treatment for the water barrier layer of shotcrete, softening its appearance and allowing it to feel more ‘of the earth’.

From earth we come
Roof enclosure

As the intention was to create a completely immersive experience and to give the visitor an actual sense of walking into the earth, putting earth on the roof was a key component. The weight of the earth on the roof dictated the design and meant that trusses needed to be much closer together to be able to hold the weight of the 20 cm layer of topsoil required for grass to grow effectively. The final structural design by Henry Fagan created a 25-tonne structure to carry 250 tonnes of earth.

A reminder of what has gone before us, and what is likely to follow, EARTHBOX is a consumer space of the future, one that allows visitors ‘to have memorable experiences that help reignite a sense of childlike wonder. Even if just for a day. Or a moment,’ (Marina Busse), and we couldn’t agree more.

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