Architecture Magazine

Bale Building Is: Go!

By The_woodlouse @the_woodlouse
Wowsers!  Volunteer week began yesterday and already more has happened than I could do in a week by myself.  The power of fifteen motivated people to plow through a variety of tasks at speed is awesome.  I have been joining in and doing my best to assist Kuba with supervising and keeping check on everything, but a fair amount of time has been spent being overwhelmed by it all.  It's brilliant but really quite shocking to see so much happening.
I go to the gable-end of the bungalow to unravel a measurements mystery (the bungalow is clearly not the size the surveyor said it is, this has happened in a number of places and I'm not impressed), return to the extension-end a short while later to find another task that had been preying on my mind has been completed with ease.  It's lovely being suddenly surrounded by a variety of lovely people, especially as they are helping build Anna's and my home.
We've been feeding the volunteers well, or more accurately: we've all been fed extremely well fed by a friend who has been doing the catering.  I've always been extremely well fed on strawbale courses/volunteer weeks on other people's builds so it's nice to maintain the standard.
In two days we've filled the extension and wrap plinth with the insulating, draining and damp-proof foamed glass gravel; fitted Darren's awesome timber baseplate (including amending it to fit the actual door location - Darren built it exactly as instructed, but I but I built the door slightly in the wrong place... Kuba says it's better there but he may be humouring me); filled the base plate with LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate); fitted the uprights around window and door openings; clay-plastered the bungalow where the wrap bales will meet the existing walls; and finally put the first bales in.  Anna and me have been waiting for this moment for well over a year now, and it feels great.  There is, of course, still a huge amount of work to do but the bale building has begun.  Knowing that soon we'll have complete walls - on which a roof can be built which will create a new indoors - is brilliant.

Bale building is: go!

Technopor foamed glass gravel, compacted as ever in layers


Bale building is: go!

Clay plaster (a simple 2 sand : 1 clay mix) on the existing bungalow, ensures a level(ish) surface for the bales to meet, and helps prevent condensation at the join


Bale building is: go!

Team Plaster


Bale building is: go!

Kuba mixes some plaster


Bale building is: go!

Extra thick straw/clay plaster and timber ensure a secure join where the loadbearing strawbale walls meet the bungalow.  The bales will be notched to fit snuggly around the timber


Bale building is: go!

Chips, drizzle and seaside: Kuba and Anna enjoy the authentic English seaside experience


Bale building is: go!

The baseplate is levelled with wooden shims and mortared in place


Bale building is: go!

I want a giant wooden toy train to play with on this


Bale building is: go!

Mike, Kuba and Jo examing a lump to Technopor, frsh out of a bucket of water to confirm that it is indeed impervious to water


Bale building is: go!

Sharpening stakes to go in the base plate to secure the first layer of bales


Bale building is: go!

Bale building is: go!

Aksel and Cevita fitting eye-screws, used to tie the wrap bales against the wall


Bale building is: go!

Permanent window/door posts and temporary corner guides


Bale building is: go!

Kuba making a long bale.  This window is designed same size as existing bungalow front windows to match visually and keep planners happy.  It means it doesn't fit bale size so well, so we'll need to make some bigger and some smaller.


Bale building is: go!

LECA very effectively fills and insulates the voids in the baseplate


Bale building is: go!

Kuba and Marcin notching a bale with an alligator saw


Bale building is: go!

Anna and me lifting the first bale into place, assisted by Julia checking we put it in the right place


Bale building is: go!

Add caption


Bale building is: go!

Pushing it firmly into place


Bale building is: go!

Bale building is: go!

Bale building is: go!

Sam proudly fitting bale number 2.


Bale building is: go!

A corner!


Bale building is: go!

Bale building is: go!

Bale building is: go!

Kuba and Chocolate at peace after a good days work



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