Posted on

Natural Building & appropriate technology’s blog 13

Article 13 of Natural Bldg and Appropriate Tech Internship

One more big day at the Koanga Institute.

As promised here are some pictures of the solar ovens! Finally we lay all of them out in the sun!


As you can see the four stoves are all different, this had its effect on efficiency too. We all learned a lot through this process. The winner of our solar oven competition is the last one, with reflectors on three of its sides. The inner plate reached a temperature of 140°C. That’s hot! Now, the mystery, the double glassing of this same winner solar oven cracked! Hmmmmm, did it crack because of the heat? Or did it crack because of someone who was not happy about the result? Who knows!


Roasting potatoes! 

Anyways potatoes are cooking for the day and it is a perfect synchronicity with our menu for today. Two teams today, one will finish the bond beam, and the other will build a rocket barbecue! Perfect with the potatoes.

Let’s begin with the rocket barbecue team which I am part of. Our brief was simple: build a barbecue, otherwise you have nothing to eat for dinner! With this powerful motivation we began to check out all the available scrap material around us and think about what we wanted to create. It needed to be efficient, this is the rocket part, and big, because there is a whole community to feed. Having this in mind we designed it.


The design, our reference point through the whole process.

Personally I like working in a team, but also I like when things go fast. I am not very patient and sometimes I found it challenging listening to everyone argue about why this and how that. BUT I realized that this is the actual learning process  I came for as part of this internship. Through this exchange of concepts, each one of us is able to express his own vision and understanding of the principles. Through this kind of conversation we can figure out what we actually understand and more importantly what we don’t, and here we learn.

So now let’s build! We have a lot of metal work to do so first…



… we learn how to safely use the tools. It is very important to know what to do in a safe way. Especially when we use some really powerful electric tools or even more powerful an oxy-torch. These things can melt metal ! So we don’t jump on the tools and Tim explained us how to use them. I love this kind of day, where we can have a go on tools that I didn’t even know it exists. Now, Let’s go! We are prepared and focused, we know what to do and we don’t want to be hungry. Let’s build it!


Sarah welding.


Shaz using the axle grinder. Angry Ben welding.


And even more welding.


And now we can up with all the piece together and…

The G shape of our rocket barbecue is too short! No, it is not exactly true. We knew. I put this picture to symbolize the fact that even with some well thought-out design there is always some factors that we don’t include and one more time this universal law: we can always do a better job. So let’s not stick too much to our design and be flexible. Let’s not be scared of changing things.


So we improved our rocket barbecue and we succeeded in finishing it on time for the event of tonight!

But before that, we forgot some people! The other group, the building team. Let’s have a look at their work. Not having spent the day with them I will try to describe what they did at my best. The first step was to finish the box to pour the concrete. Once the box was in place they set up a layer of plastic inside for the concrete not to leak from the sides.


Finished box with the plastic.

Next step was to put in place the rebar. A little problem happened, the rebar was too small, so they had to readjust it quite a few times before having it inside.


The rebar in the box.

Now is time to begin with the concrete. I have just asked the building team and they reckon that 2 cubic meters of concrete went into the creation of the bond beam, more or less 25 wheelbarrows full.


 Tom and Dehlila, the younger generation, working together.

 Thanks heaps to the building team for their incredible work!


A happy team.

Big lesson for the day was that somehow in a smaller team we are able to do bigger task. We work in a more efficient way and the communication is clearer. I really appreciate to be in a team of 4-5 to do a single task, where there will be no time when I am just standing there asking myself what to do?

And after all the work, time to eat! We used our rocket barbecue and the potatoes from the solar oven to have a feast with the whole community. After the labour, time for the celebration!


Getting ready for the party.

 ~Oscar Morand, 8 March 2013, Natural Building and Appropriate Technology Intern

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *