A narrow escape

7th June 2014

Today despite a morning of persistent rain, with good numbers and fresh members to the team, we were able to get straight on with our target of finishing the layers. As the morning pushed on the rain caused us a few problems and forced us into an early lunch but by mid afternoon, the layers where looking good, with the gap in the roof really starting to close in and the arch of keystones also well on the way to being finished. With slightly higher levels of water in the soil, due to all the rain, we added extra stakes to normal. We also moved all the sand and clay for rendering, kindly delivered by Trevor, on to site, along with the freshly arrived roof turf. By the end of the day the skylight had been sealed ready to be placed tomorrow and we had laid the final seven layers, with 3 extra layers which than no longer brought in the radius of the dome, but formed a angled wedge to hold this central skylight. So the dome has now reach its full height, luckily, as work started to prove very difficult at such a height, if you had to be inside the dome to work, it was now a matter of balancing on a board supported by two stacks of tyres, with the easiest exit once inside, a very narrow escape through the door form work. On leaving site we had worked out a method of how to fill the gap between the main dome and entrance arch and this work had started. A great day in terms of progress, lets home all goes as well tomorrow when we can remove the form work, windows and add the roofing cover.



En Route

5th June 2014

Today we arrived on site and the first job was to add the windows as we had reached their base/sill layer the previous day. The windows work with the same structure principle as the overall structure, a false arch; small arched/triangular windows so as not to weaken the building over, as observed in a similar building.  We then divided into groups, some people dug and transferred the last 4 loads of earth on to site, whilst others cut the stakes, finished the tyre roof structure and gradually as everyone finished their other jobs joined the team adding layers. As we finished for the day the sun was shinning and there was a momentous feeling that we were en route and now getting a bit nearer to completion.



After the Rain

4th June 2014

So today when we arrived on site we all immediately began to fill the layer prepared the evening before. We had nearly completed filling the layer when we discover a problem, whilst we had covered the earth with a waterproof cover the amount of rain over night and up until we arrived had seeped under and dramatically altered the texture of the soil in outer edges of the mound, making it much too wet to use, feeling and acting like jelly under the tamper. It was a learning experience and we decide to take up the areas of the layer which were too saturated and replace them with dryer earth, in a bid not to compromise the structure. We then set about continuing more layers and transporting more earth onto the site via tractor. Today we’ve really gain some height and an exciting development was the laying of the first key stones that begins the arched roof of the lobby.

‘Learning is pleasurable but doing is the height of enjoyment’

– Novalis

3rd June 2014

So today, with increased numbers, we were able to spilt in to sub groups and pick up momentum. We had a group laying the bags, another digging the freshly delivered earth and transporting it onto site, whilst another group set about finalising the roof finish (hat) and building its structure. The roof design is aimed at keeping the dome, breathable yet waterproof, the bags can’t be washed away or sealed to the outside. There will be a hat like structure of two layers of tyres supporting a living roof, this will allow the water to be used by the greenery, and any excess water will run off and fall from the over hang, leaving the lower plastered area of wall dry, whilst an inner layer of tyres under a DPC will allow the walls to breath, having a ventilation network. Something particularly exciting today is that the layers are now becoming noticeable harder and really beginning to take form, it was great to really get back into full swing and to once again have more sub groups all working together, as cogs to the overall process. A productive day!

Bags of Fun if Nothing Else

2nd June 2014

So today the first job we had to do was to phone and order more earth, yesterday we knew we were getting very low and it was looking like earlier estimates would now  need doubling. So with more earth ordered for tomorrow, we finishing tamping the last layer and folded over the DPC, using our freshly prepared and very locally sourced stakes to pin it down to the layer and then we added the traditional ring of barbed wire before starting the next layer. As we added each new ring, with two teams symmetrically filling the bags, we began bag races, which team could fill to the front first, it was a lot of fun (however we were careful not to forget importance of being accurate and careful, I promise). With every layer we made ourselves tamper for a while then, measure up the radius, before tampering more where necessary, always aiming for an equally level, flat and compressed layer. Today the form work was extended where needed over the lobby, never an easy task, it took a lot of work but by mid afternoon it was finished and very strong.  Finally today one person was able to start creating the roofing cover, experimenting with recycled tyres, which can later be filled with earth potentially for a living roof. When we all finished up for the day we were happy to see that it was really starting to take shape and gain height, a great days work guys!