Year: 2007

Le Corbusier ~ The function of a house

The functions of a house, setting aside all other 'romantic cobwebs' are to provide: " 1. A shelter against heat, cold, rain, thieves and the inquisitive. 2. A receptacle for sun and light. 3. A certain number of cells appropriated for cooking, work and personal life. "Le Corbusier ... keeping it simple.
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Green = Mean ?

I've spent the day practicing my version of precision carpentry cladding openings of my big metal shed. My approach to carpentry is based on one of the many mantra's of someone of great wisdom who used to work with my father and brother: Measure twice, cut once. I have finely tuned this to: Measure once, cut once. (It'll be OK) Thus saving a third of the time that would otherwise be spent ;) Whilst hacking away roughly at the wood I've reused from the animal stalls in the barn I got to thinking about the wisdom of what I was…
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I’m certainly no bathroom designer / the strange 1 metre wide space

The original plans for the barn had two largish bathrooms one of which contained an airing cupboard that to my mind was a waste of space. Not being a person who knows when to stop meddling, I decided to remove the airing cupboard, add an ante-room to the main bedroom's en-suite and move one of the walls. This created a rather strange 1 metre wide space of limited value. Whilst getting quotes from builders it came to light that we'd allowed for one doorway too few to be cut through the main internal stone wall of the barn (the left-most…
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New Pictures ~ Before

I've been promising these for a while, but eventually I've got there. I'd added a whole new set of photographs of the barn to the site that I'll use as my before photo's. Hopefully, I can use these to demonstrate progress as the conversion goes on. Some of them are similar to other pictures I've taken in the past, but all these are new, taken at the end of October 2007 just before work began. That clear blue sky is typical of the weather we get in West Wales at that time of year (well at least sometimes) ... Here's…
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Attention to detail…

So, as we have started work, we need to think about all those details that I've put to one side until we had a builder. Not liking getting too formal about such things, it seems like a good idea to make a list so: Last update [4th November 2007] Ground or Air Source Heat Pump that is the question. Heating. Go with under-floor heating on the ground floor with radiators on first floor ~ drawbacks, problems, source of hot water for radiators (potentially from back-boiler on multi-fuel room heater)? Internal doors (find some that we like). Openings through internal walls.…
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Here we go…

So the time has come to stop skirting around the fringes of this project and crack-on down the path that leads from barn to barn conversion (what a difference a word makes). The builder started work yesterday, although I've not seen what's been done, (I'm retaining a aloof distance for the next few days and avoiding the muck and machinery of the groundworks - although my father might sneek over later to take a look) with an end-date of next May for the major building work. I took the opportunity at the weekend to take a full range of 'before'…
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How Green is Cement?

Being about to pour several tonnes of concrete into the floor of our barn I was interested to read about the environmental impact of cement usage. Apparently, world-wide cement production creates twice as many carbon emissions as the world's airline industry does. For each tonne of cement that is produced 900kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere ~ heavy stuff! Moves are afoot from major producers to green the production process. Geocycle in Belgium provides technology that allows waste products to be used to power the kilns in which the ingredients of cement (limestone, calcium, silicon, aluminium and iron…
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A Pattern Language – Towns Buildings Construction

Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein ~ 1977, Oxford University Press, New York. In 1977, whilst in the UK the Sex Pistols where spreading a message of anarchy and being "Pretty Vacant", in the USA Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein and co. were publishing three books that would enable us to bring order and thoughtful design to our homes, neighbourhoods, towns and cities. This, the second book in the series, is a working document for 'a new traditional post-industrial architecture'. The book takes the form of 253 patterns each pattern describes a problem that occurs in our built environment and then suggest…
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Biomass Heating

The term biomass heating refers to the combustion of plant based organic materials for the purpose of heating a volume of air. Biomass fuels fall into two main categories: Woody resources from sustainable sources such as fast growing trees or subsiduary waste products such as sawdust or recycled untreated pallets. Non-woody resources such as animal waste and the secondary organic output of activities such as oil seed rape and sugar cane processing. These fuels are repositories for solar energy - energy from the sun is captured via the process of photosynthesis and stored by the plant, then released by combustion.…
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Rest and Recuperation

Firstly, I must apologise for the infrequency of my recent posting. I've been away in France for a little 'R and R' staying in a barn conversion in Normandy (can't stay away from the bloody things). The place we stay at now has four barns converted for holiday accommodation. We stayed in the first conversion at the farm more or less exactly two years ago and since then three more have followed. What I find interesting is that whilst there are many similarities in the buildings and the climate between here and South Wales and in essence the conversions are…
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