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Natural Building & appropriate technology’s blog 11

Article 11 of Natural Bldg and Appropriate Tech Internship

Firstly a picture from yesterday of the timber after it had been stripped of all the bark.

11.1

Stripped wood.

And finally, after all this suspense, I proudly announce the opening of the solar oven competition! The sun is bright, and the solar ovens are finished. A team of people spent the whole day measuring the temperature of some bottle full of water in the oven. I don’t have all the results yet, but what I can say for having tested it is that some plates inside the oven went up to 120 °C! That’s pretty hot my friends.

11.2

Shazad and Shelly in front of their shiny solar oven, with a lot of reflectors.

Otherwise, we are still working on the foundations of our sleep-outs. Time to set up the bond beam. For this we had to bend our r-bar very precisely and the team doing this job did very good.

11.3

Here is our bended r-bar, ready to be set up.

The bond beam will be composed of concrete with a core of r-bar to provide tensile strength. We decided it would be easiest to form the r-bar frame as one piece ahead of time instead of installing piece-by-piece. The 4 square r-bar that you can see on the top needs to be joined with each other in a square pattern. For this we had to create some square stirrup ties that will hold these 4 r-bar together. We estimated having to do 24 of these squares. And to do this task, what could be better than still using some r-bar? Firstly we had to build a structure that would allow us to bend the r-bar into a good shape and then shape out 24 squares. Personally I love working with metal and it was a joy to melt and bend these pieces of r-bar.

11.4

Silus creating the square stirrup ties to hold the bond beam in place.

Part of today’s task was to lay out 7 m3 of fill-in to raise the floor of our sleep-outs. A big truck came delivering all this material. We had a vibrating plate…Wait… A big truck burning fossil fuel that we ordered to bring us some material that has been mined somewhere else on earth? Having to hire a vibrating plate that smells so bad when it is running? Aren’t we doing a Natural Building Internship? What is natural about all this?

These kinds of thoughts came to me, and then, a realisation. I am not alone in this world, we are not alone. And we have to match the council’s regulations. It is not good or bad, it is and that’s it. And even with all this “non-natural” (if we can call something not natural) things that we have used it is not that bad. Our carbon footprint is still way lower than any commercial building. Definitely we could do better, but this is a universal law, we can always do better. And doing this, we are aligned with the legal entities around us. Our model can be replicated without any major legal complication in the area.

11.5

The hard fill arriving.

 11.6

Foundations set up, waiting to be raised, levelled and compacted.

Anyway, as I am saying (more precisely writing) we had a vibrating plate to compact the hard fill up to the desired height. How did we do that? One person on the vibrating plate, some shovelling the hard fill in the wheelbarrow, other emptying the wheelbarrow and a few people racking and pre-levelling the hard fill before that the vibrating plate passes on.

11.7

Angry Ben on the vibrating plate.

 11.8

The whole team working. Vibrating plate running, wheelbarrow following the rhythm and racking all this.

~Oscar Morand, 6 March 2013, Natural Building and Appropriate Technology Intern

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