Month: January 2008

Grrrrrand Designs…

I love Grand Designs, it's been an inspiration to me and is at least partially to blame for this project. But the latest series has so far defined grand in terms of pounds and pence rather than any more noble or aesthetic value. So far we've seen rich people building rich peoples houses - grand in terms of Victorian upper class values of opulence and decadence, but out of step with 21st century sensibilities and environmental anxieties. There have been occasional glimpses of green technology and design - I think a ground source heat pump has popped up at least…
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Ecohouse 2 – A design Guide

Sue Roaf, Manuel Fuentes, Stephanie Thomas ~ 2003, Architectural Press. This is the second edition of this book and has two introductions - one for each edition. The introductions carry the usual messages of doom regarding rising sea levels and diminished fossil fuels that pang of preaching to the converted, but sets the context for the book. This is a book about eco-houses and in its terms that means zero fossil fuel and low or zero carbon buildings. The books starts with a chapter on 'the building as an analogy' and provokes consideration of buildings and purpose through the use…
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Building Progress ~ January 2008, week 4

At the moment, my life seems to be dominated by lintels - oak or concrete, big or small. Progress is really racing along at the moment - the first floor in the main part of the barn is almost complete, the floor has been started in the smaller kitchen end and the first floor doorway through the original wall has been started. But of most note on my lintel theme - we have oak lintels in the exterior wall for the new windows that will grace the seemingly leaky gable end.
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Building Progress ~ January 2008, week 1, 2 and 3

Progress has really slowed as my builder is away on holiday and left his boys finishing off another job at the start of the month. However, as I write I'm led to believe by my spy on the ground that there's furious activity at the barn. Whilst the first floor continues to be built, the main progress has been in the installation of reclaimed oak beams as the lintel between the two ground floor rooms. Getting the levels correct was a bit problematic, as there is a two step drop through the opening and two beams are necessary because of…
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Lack of Government support for solar power

As this project progresses certain features become core to the overall design whilst others fall onto the 'B' list. This 'B' list consists of technologies and design elements that I would like to implement during some future phase of the project as time and money allow. Electricity-generating photovoltaic (PV) solar panels have always been on the 'B' list for reasons of cost, payoff periods and the fact that there is a ready and easy alternative (can't get much easier than mains electricity!). I've read a number of articles recently that me me glad about that decision. Since government grants were…
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Oak Beam ~ The Movie

Inspired by my first outing onto YouTube and dazzled by the 143 people who've so far taken the time to watch the minute long tour of the ground floor of the barn that I've subjected treated them to, I thought I'd give it another go. This time I've gone for a more abstract yet focussed piece of work - I hope you don't find the star of the show too wooden! (Sorry!)
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White-washing?

One solution I'm considering for the seemingly porous stone gable-end wall is to repoint and dub-out the joints between stones where necessary then whitewash it to provide a greater degree of rain protection. What I'm wondering about this is how much work this would save over a time consuming hack out of damaged or cracked mortar and then repointing. The joints have already been pretty well dubbed out, although I suspect not properly hacked back before hand to give enough depth of mortar to provide better water protection (which is where the problems arise). So the sound areas of pointing…
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Building Progress ~ New Year 2007/2008

The feel of the barn has moved on again as now the openings for the two windows that we're adding to the gable end of the barn have been completely punched through. Whilst it's hard to get a proper appreciation for the view they provide as they are currently covered with old aggregates bags and frames, lintels and sills need to be added that will change the openings drastically, two things are apparent. One, that they'll provide some additional, useful light from a roughly southerly direction and two, they'll open up the view across the valley to the hillside beyond.…
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Vernacular Architecture ~ Robert Venturi

In my haphazard stumble through the world of architects and architecture, I came across Robert Venturi. Whilst not perhaps directly appreciating his work when seen on the page in print (his emergency service building for Disney World in Florida is a Fire Department HQ straight out of a Mickey Mouse cartoon), I do appreciate and agree with his concept of "vernacular" architecture. In simplistic terms it entails taking the building and design trends of a country or locality and using them as an architectural guide. In his 1972 work "Learning from Las Vegas" he highlighted the common architectural features of…
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