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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 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.
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.
The 'Reciprocal Room' floor is finished...and shiny!
Proud fireplace builders.
Work on the huge fireplace begins with the help and guidance of stonemasons Andy Peters and Pete Gibson.
Taking a break
Showers near completion
Floor goes down in kitchen
Sky-light being installed
3.5m diameter dodecagon sky-light installed
Cob-filled stud walls
Cob wall taking shape
Ta-daah! Our cob glass bottle art design in the cob wall is complete. Thank you Sophie for doing such a wonderful job!
Trying out some art with recycled wine bottles
Clay plastering the internal walls
Cob building internal walls begins
We now have a grass roof!
Protective wrap comes down
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!
Earth being spread on roof for grass roof
The building is 'wrapped' to ensure the strawbales (for the walls) keep dry inside
Roof membrane complete. Next stage earthing it up for the grass roof.
Roof membrane almost complete
Front of building in snowy landscape!
The long beams and geometric shapes mesmerise
Forewoman watches on in blizzard
February 2018. Snow! Such a great time of the year to be building. ;-)
6th Feb - The reciprocal roof is complete!
Suddenly looking very big
4th Feb - The uprights for the outer ring go up
January 2018. Brrrr....
The inner ring is almost complete
Someone's taking it easy
Starting to take shape
Ever-growing piles of timber waiting to be stripped
First (of many) delivery of timber
11th Oct - Measuring out the site - with a very meticulous helper
Plans for the Lodge building