He built a super-eco roundhouse in Pembrokeshire over 20 years ago, and is still living in it, after having many battles with planners and regulatory bodies. Not suprisingly, Lowimpact. Tony Wrench: Well, I just built it. In our case we designed the house around the windows, because we had them already. TW: There are no foundations — the whole place is built on top of Douglas Fir posts sunk into the ground. The walls we built with 40cm logs from the woodland here, packed with mud, and with straw in the gaps in the middle — a bit like cavity wall insulation!
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He built a super-eco roundhouse in Pembrokeshire over 20 years ago, and is still living in it, after having many battles with planners and regulatory bodies. Not suprisingly, Lowimpact. Tony Wrench: Well, I just built it. In our case we designed the house around the windows, because we had them already.
TW: There are no foundations — the whole place is built on top of Douglas Fir posts sunk into the ground. The walls we built with 40cm logs from the woodland here, packed with mud, and with straw in the gaps in the middle — a bit like cavity wall insulation!
The roof is made of reciprocal poles each pole supports the next one, until the last one supports the first one, if that makes sense — you can do it with lollipop sticks on cups — no central pillar is required to hold the roof up. On top of that is a turf roof, with straw-bales underneath to provide insulation. LI: Opinion is probably split on homes like this — some people will find it beautiful, but others will be horrified.
Focusing on the people who would love to have a home like this — is it for everybody? Anyone occupying a house like this needs to have a certain kind of attitude. The house is super-eco, and is an integral part of the local landscape. The occupiers would need to be the same. Lifestyle is the critical thing when it comes to the sustainability of a building. Just looking at the building alone is not enough. These kinds of buildings could be situated on the edge of towns, to house teachers, nurses, plumbers etc.
TW: We took a permaculture approach to lay the place out — to fit in with nature and the local landscape, to be unobtrusive and to minimise heat loss in winter etc.
Also, the house is now a habitat for more than just humans. TW: Very difficult — but we were determined and I think it was worth it. The idea is that the countryside should be empty apart from giant farms.
We believe the opposite — that the countryside should be a patchwork of smallholdings and communities, on which people should be able to build their homes as long as they are working the land and the buildings are super-eco. This is already happening — we were unique at the time, but now lots of people are doing it.
Snow on the roof is a good sign — no heat loss through the roof. TW: Yes. Lammas had a terrible time with building regs — which are aimed at ordinary, bricks and mortar plus plastic, cement, steel and lots of other unsustainable materials , suburban or urban homes. What Lammas was trying to do was not in their area of understanding or their comfort zone. It has a lot to do with individual personalities as well. A new head of building control came in with a completely different attitude, understood what we were trying to do, and supported us.
Lammas was then treated differently as regards building regs. This would have been an extra expense, and would have used lots of resources, when there was water close by where people could wash. To their credit, building control officers now realise this, and Lammas was allowed their outdoor compost loos. This home is breathable, heated by a wood stove that gets its oxygen due to the fact that the house is made of natural materials, and is therefore a bit leaky. Plastics are a huge problem — in terms of their manufactue and lack of biodegradability.
TW: Definitely. It works because hot water rises — no electricity is needed to pump it. We also have a passive solar porch on the south side of the house, made of recycled glass. For example a lot of carpets are plastic now.
The idea is big in Germany, especially in carpets, textiles and dyes. There are around 20, dye colours on the market, but only 38 of them are biodegradable. Companies using the cradle to cradle approach would only use biodegradable dyes, plus other materials, and of course no plastics.
Part of the wall, showing cordwood and cob, plus living roof. LI: Did anything useful come out of your encounters with planners or building control officers? TW: Yes, building control people came to visit, and they were very nice. They explained that this was very risky in terms of carbon monoxide leaking into the house and poisoning us — so I changed it. The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact. Email Address.
John Harrison said on October 2, Robert said on October 2, Building our cob cabin in N Spain was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. Chris vernon said on October 2, This approach is now available to everyone, at least everyone living in or able to move to Wales. We recently had our planning application for four houses approved under the One Planet Development policy. Janet Parsons said on October 3, John Stebson said on July 9, You are absolutely right — what we need to be saying is that we are currently in a SLAVE system, where OUR land has been stolen from us, and therefore we have to work from cradle to grave just to have the most basic human right of all — a piece of land to live on — because somebody else STOLE it from us all, during the Enclosures.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Why What How. Blog home. From the air — not exactly obtrusive, is it? LI: Where do you start with a project like this? Interior of the roundhouse. Lime-rendered wall. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Subscribe to our blog. Receive email notifications of new posts. Related articles. Why does the planning system make it so difficult for people who want to live on the land sustainably?
How Charlie and Meg's self-built, natural home finally received planning permission with the help of the One Planet Council Wales' unique 'one-planet' planning policy and the Lammas Ecovillage Sigi Koko on the basics of passive solar design Rent first to see if a self-build home in a cohousing project at an eco-chateau in France is for you Request for help to build a reciprocal roundhouse for an environmental charity: great learning opportunity, and it's free Building a small home has a big payback Help our off-grid, timber, straw-bale and stone 'eco-pod' project happen, then come and stay in it!
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Building a Low Impact Roundhouse
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