Story of a Shed 2015

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:19

After a 48hr soak the clay slurry is ready for the 'key' layer
After a 48hr soak the clay slurry is ready for the ‘key’ layer

To build from the ground and to return to the ground, the story of this shed is the story of the communities that built it, the groups that will use it that learn from it and inspired to go on to tell the story of a shed. The ambition was to use clay, sand, straw and wood to work as a community to build a shelter with our hands. To engage individuals that had no building experience with materials from their immediate environment, encouraging our natural instinct to build a home.

The Soil Culture Forum was one such community that had a significant impact not only on the build but the people involved. Building, digging, stamping, cobbing, sharing ideas and techniques across a diverse community, the legacy lives on in the walls. Some of the volunteers have been encouraged to build their own homes. There is talk of cob bus shelters on campus. The field is now a hub for growing your own veg, of composting all the kitchen waste from the 250 student kitchens. Courses from the four different colleges on campus have come forward to work together to use the space for drawing, architecture, renewable energy, performance, Art and activism.

The shed has become a small but significant voice in larger conversations of sustainable design and what sustainable education looks like and if we have to move to a larger field the walls will compost down and we’ll grow potatoes.

A large team of volunteers from the green living project make a start on the foundations
A large team of volunteers from the green living project make a start on the foundations
Clearing and leveling the site looking out for thistle and dandelion roots, or anything else that may grow through the floor membrane.
Clearing and leveling the site looking out for thistle and dandelion roots or anything else that may grow through the floor membrane.
Marking out the footprint of the shed with the first layer of rammed earth tyres for the foundation plynth.
Marking out the footprint of the shed with the first layer of rammed earth tyres for the foundation plynth.
reparing the base layer of hazel pins, connecting the bales to the plinth of tyres.
Preparing the base layer of hazel pins and connecting the bales to the plinth. Apart from a hedge trimmer used for trimming the strawbales the whole build was done with traditional hand tools.
Using hazel pins and staples to hold the bales together, the straw walls go up in a morning.
Using hazel pins and staples to hold the bales together, the straw walls go up in a morning.
Volunteers from the green living project mixing Cob the fun way.
Volunteers from the green living project mixing Cob the fun way.
Making the clay slurry to mix with two parts sharp sand and one part straw for the cob mix
Making the clay slurry to mix with two parts sharp sand and one part straw for the cob mix
The straw needs a pure clay 'key' layer before applying the Cob
The straw needs a pure clay ‘key’ layer before applying the Cob
The completed shed waiting for a top coat of lime wash. Strawbale and Cob building project with RANE, Soil Culture Forum and the Green Living Project. Falmouth Univeristy, Penryn Campus, Cornwall
The completed shed waiting for a top coat of lime wash. Strawbale and Cob building project with RANE, Soil Culture Forum and the Green Living Project. Falmouth University, Penryn Campus, Cornwall
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