Eco Building, Strawbuilding

Constructing The Lodge

A building made with timber, straw and mud

The Lodge is the large communal building for our glamping guests which was completed in May 2019. We tried to make it as eco as possible so used locally sourced roundwood timber (30 tonnes), the external walls are all made from straw-bales and the internal walls are made with 'cob' - earth, sand, straw & water. There is also a grass roof alive with the grasses and wildflowers excavated from the site.

Straw-bale Building

Straw-bale building is a construction method commonly used in natural/eco building construction. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method for building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling. Advantages of straw-bale construction over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant and high insulation value. Straw-bale walls are typically coated with a thick layer of lime plaster, which provides a thermal mass.  The combination of insulation and thermal mass provide an excellent platform for passive solar building design for winter and summer. And the cosiness of the Lodge is a testament to this.


Cob Building

The internal walls of the Lodge were built with 'Cob' which is another method of natural building. Cob is a combination of sandy-sub soil, clay and straw. It’s mixed together in large batches by stomping (or dancing!) on it. Cob is considered the most sustainable method of building there is. Cob has almost zero embodied energy and since its made of earth, it is also entirely recyclable, biodegradable, breatheable and non-polluting. 

For all the benefits and appeal of natural building it is however extremely labour-intensive and takes a long time with a LOT of helpful hands.  We are hugely indebted to the close-to 100 amazing volunteers who came from all corners of the world to learn about natural building techniques with us and get their hands dirty, without whom we'd almost certainly still be building! 

 

Construction began in October 2017, not the ideal time of year to start a building project on the wild north west coast of Ireland! 

The building was designed by Marcus and Cork artist, builder and friend Christy Collard. Renowned for his beautiful craftmanship Christy has been pushing the boundaries of round-pole construction and reciprocal designs for years, his creations are as much works of art as they are functional spaces.

Also a big thanks to Strawbuild.org who drew up the detailed design drawings, to Hassen Mzali who got us going with the strawbuilding and Bee Rowan for all the advice and support. We have since been included in the European database of strawbale buildings at  www.strawbuilding.eu 

Below is a gallery of photos following the build progression and further below are several short videos for anyone interested in  alternative, natural methods of straw and cob building.

Construction Gallery

'Reciprocal Room' is almost complete

The 'Reciprocal Room' floor is finished...and shiny!

Fireplace

Proud fireplace builders.

Fireplace

Work on the huge fireplace begins with the help and guidance of stonemasons Andy Peters and Pete Gibson.

Taking a break

Taking a break

Eco Lodge
Showers near completion

Showers near completion

Floor goes down

Floor goes down in kitchen

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Sky-light being installed

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

3.5m diameter dodecagon sky-light installed

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Cob-filled stud walls

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Cob wall taking shape

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Ta-daah! Our cob glass bottle art design in the cob wall is complete. Thank you Sophie for doing such a wonderful job!

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Trying out some art with recycled wine bottles

Lough Mardal Glamping Donegal

Clay plastering the internal walls

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

Cob building internal walls begins

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

We now have a grass roof!

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Protective wrap comes down

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Lime-rendering complete. Coat after coat has been applied by hand, initially massaged into the straw and then layers added to create a uniform surface. The final coat is being applied now after 6 weeks of hard work and about 20 tonnes of lime and sand!

Lime Rendering
Lime rendering begins
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

First walls

Glamping Ireland

Windows in!

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

Strawbale Inspector

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

Earth being spread on roof for grass roof

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

The building is 'wrapped' to ensure the strawbales (for the walls) keep dry inside

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Donegal

Roof membrane complete. Next stage earthing it up for the grass roof.

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland

Roof membrane almost complete

Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Front of building in snowy landscape!

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

The long beams and geometric shapes mesmerise

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Forewoman watches on in blizzard

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

February 2018. Snow! Such a great time of the year to be building. ;-)

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

6th Feb - The reciprocal roof is complete!

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Suddenly looking very big

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

4th Feb - The uprights for the outer ring go up

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

January 2018. Brrrr....

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

The inner ring is almost complete

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Someone's taking it easy

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland
Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Starting to take shape

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Wood-henge!

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Ever-growing piles of timber waiting to be stripped

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

First (of many) delivery of timber

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

11th Oct - Measuring out the site - with a very meticulous helper

Lough Mardal Lodge Glamping Ireland

Plans for the Lodge building

Construction Video Gallery