Constructing the Lodge
The roof is a grass roof alive with the grasses and wildflowers excavated from the site.
Constructing The Lodge
The Lodge is the large communal building for our glamping guests which was completed in May 2019. Over 30 tonnes of locally sourced roundwood timber was used to build the frame and roof, the external walls are all made from straw-bales and the internal walls are made with 'cob' (earth, sand, straw & water). There is a grass 'living' roof alive with the grasses and wildflowers excavated from the site.
This symbolism of reciprocity, interdependence and interconnectedness is reflected in the 'Reciprocal Roof' design and indeed the whole essence and soul of the building. As each roundpole beam supports the one above it, so did the building rely on the support of all the many volunteers whose hands molded and pressed the mud into the walls, to all the locally sourced materials - the building literally came from the land around it - to the building now providing a beautiful space to bring of people together, supporting connection.
Straw-bale building is a construction method often 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, low level of skill needed in construction, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant once compressed and covered with clay plaster, and high insulation value. Straw-bale walls are typically coated with a thick layer of lime render externally and clay plaster internally.
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. It has almost zero embodied energy and since it's made of earth, it is also entirely recyclable, biodegradable, breathable and non-polluting. Cob provides excellent thermal mass acting as a heat regulator fo the building – cooling in the summer and providing heat storage in the winter.
The combination of insulation from the straw bale external walls and thermal mass from the internal cob walls provides an excellent platform for passive solar building design for winter and summer. And the cosiness of the Lodge is a testament to this.
For all the benefits and appeal of natural building it is however extremely labour-intensive and needs 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!
Grass 'living' Roof
The soil excavated to build the Lodge was placed back on top of the roof along with all the native grass and wildflower seeds within it making for a 'living' roof, blending the building into the landscape from which it came. And a joy to behold in Summer when in full bloom!
Reed Bed & Wetland System
All the grey/waste water produced in the Lodge is processed through a reed bed and wetland filtration system. This system creates a natural biological filter rather than a chemical treatment. It is a relatively zero energy input, low-tech, high-efficiency system that can be used to help protect streams, rivers and lakes from almost any source of effluent or dirty water.
Air-to-Water Heating System
The hot water and building is heated by an Air-to-Water system. As this is powered by 75% renewable energy (air) and only 25% electricity, a heat pump is the most cost-efficient and sustainable heating solution available today.
The Lodge is part powered by solar panels and the remaining electricity required is provided by an electricity provider using exclusively wind energy. The Lodge therefore is powered 100% from green energy.
Recycling & Upcycling
We repurposed and upcycled whenever possible throughout the build. Empty wine bottles were used to create art features in the Lodge. All the window sills in the Lodge were made with wind fell trees, the back-of-house mop sink was first bought by Marcus’s aunt in 1973 and was installed and still going strong! Our office desk was handmade and drawers created from old wine crates. Upcycled old pallets were used to build log boxes for storing firewood as well as for making wooden shower mats in the shower rooms. And practically all of the furniture in the Lodge is second-hand. The signs of wear and tear add character - we hope you think so too!
The building is a sustainably-built, environmentally-friendly, living, breathing building showcasing great Irish eco building design. It has 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