Today the sun was finally out, allowing us to progress well on the earth bags and door formwork! Today was also the (albeit late) start of the timelapse for the buildings progression over the next 4 days.
1st June 2014
Today the sun was shining which was good for moral, particularly with lower numbers, but we pushed on. Whilst earth layers are definitely more time consuming than gravel bags, we soon got into the rhythm of laying the connecting ring of barbed wire, and then laying the bags. We developed a technique for halfing the bags, folding back to half way, and then filling symmetrically from both ends around to the front. We then layered short bags to form the lobby and entrance in a coined pattern so no two layers’ of joints were ever in the same place on adjacent layers. It was slow going, tamping each layer and then measuring, tamping a little more and measuring… and we soon realised now accurate we needed to be with the over lap of each layer, by 6pm the seven of us were a tired but satisfied with our progress. However through out the day we had certainly realised that layering earth bags was no easy feat, and boy were we naive to think so. We’re getting there…
31st May 2014
Arriving on site, we immediately added more to the internal floor level and began to tamper down. We then read the best way to get an even fill in the first layer of earth bags, and began filling them. Learning from yesterday we used on continuous bag which is slower and takes more preparation but, as we found, gets a fair more even result. We had a lovely BBQ lunch and then once the geometry of the formwork was finished, we could design the entrance, work out and place its structural bags. A tyre foundation was laid at the threshold which meant one team had to learn a special method of tyre tamping. We also experimented a lot in which way was best to get the neatest and squarest corners, before tampering the whole first layer of earth bags. Whilst progress was slower than yesterday, with fewer numbers, being more precise and deliberating methods should pay off in the long run both in terms of quality and time.
30th May 2014
So this morning we split off into 4 sub groups. One group was finishing the drainage trenches, another the formwork, then one transporting the final loads of earth onto site, with the final group began to fill the foundations with gravel. By lunch time all the earth had reached the site, so Trevor gave us a demonstration on possible floor finishes and the drainage network had been laid on a level bed. After lunch focus moved to filling up to ground level and tamping could begin. By mid afternoon we had added the recycle fabrics (an in budget alternative to Geotextile) and we had laid the first ring of gravel filled bags marking the end of the foundations, over the DPC. We then spent the rest of the afternoon placing and checking the door formwork, whilst also developing and experimenting to find the best method for levelling the bags and infilling the floor with an insulating layer of straw before covering with earth. Today we felt achievement by reaching ground level and we had the added bonus of it not raining. Progress!
Thursday 29th May 2014
The second day on site has seen a lot of progress, with the delivery of more materials and the start of digging. Between us, we have shoveled over ten tonnes of gravel and earth onto a tractor to be transported to our site. The gravel will be used to in the foundations, with a layer of loose gravel and a layer of gravel bags providing structural support to the rest of the dome. The earth will be used to fill the bags and create the main structure of the dome while the turf removed from site will be incorporated into the roof system at a later date. Some of the team have been digging all day to complete the trenches for foundations, digging around 600 mm into the ground. The drainage system has also been started and the frame for the door built so hopefully progress will continue at this pace for a few days!