Architecture Magazine

Enthusiastic Visitors

By The_woodlouse @the_woodlouse

Enthusiastic visitors
This Saturday just gone we opened up the bungalow to anyone interested, as part of a local open eco-homes event (see here:  It was an intense but lovely day.  The photo above of me gesticulating wildly is from then (thanks very much to Sam Wilberforce for the photo, especially for managing to take one I'm not grimacing with "photo-face" and am actually happy to post online).
We had 91 people through I'm told, in 5 groups.  In the days before I was regretting having agreed to take part.  It was a particularly hectic and stressful week, that started off with the cellulose fiber (recycled newspaper) contractor trying to refuse to do the job - the day before they were due to start - because they'd completely misunderstood some boring details about vapour-control/airtight-membrane fitting with cross battens.  I refused to take "no" for an answer, especially at such a ridiculously late stage, and eventually convinced them I did know what I was doing, it would all work fine, and I was following the manufacturers specification for injection of blown insulation in any case.  I felt pleased with my seemingly improved assertiveness skills, but the work was delayed by a couple of days, which meant that at 4:30pm the day before the open day the insulation contractors were just winding up for the day and Tim and Mike (friends/builders who I asked to plasterboard the ceilings in an attempt to get back towards schedule) were still putting up plasterboard on the ceilings that had just been insulated, and the site was a mess!
I'm really glad I did do the open day though.  Before anybody even came it was nice just wondering around the (now) unsually clear and clean site.  I was expecting maybe a trickle of people throughout the day, and was fairly terrified by the large group that assembled.  I started talking about the project, and explaining things, trying to remember important details and think what would be interesting to other people, but without any real idea of whether it was interesting.  I was immensely relieved when people started asking questions that helped me shape what I said, and made me think anew about things.  Different questions came up throughout the day, which was great.
By the end of the day I was exhausted, had a sore throat (I probably haven't spoken that much in the last few months combined), but was really enlivened by the day and by people's responses to the build and baley/clayey goodness.  I've been flagging a bit lately - we've been working on site for nearly a year and a half now - and have been re-motivated by the enthusiasm of the visitors.  If you're reading this and were one of them: thankyou!
Meanwhile, I've put the photos together for a progress update and will be posting that here in the next few days.
I have another call for volunteers too: the much delayed clay plastering should be happening soon and will be greatly aided by extra enthusiastic hands.  No particular skills are needed, there's lots of different bits to it so I can find tasks to suit.  If you might be interested in playing with clay and straw, either late Septmber, early October, or both, please let me know (email me at johnbeebutler @ gmail . com - without the spaces)

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