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Reviews of:    Building a low Impact Roundhouse

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Anita B 13 Feb 2009, 5:21 PM
Great read. A little book with a big impact! Sit back, dream...then DO?
Firstly, this author stresses that he is neither Architect, nor Builder in the conventional sense. But what he is, is an enthusiastic, sympathetic and energetic Visionary, concerned with the wellbeing of both Self and Environment. And, despite declaring his life ‘below the poverty line’ he is ‘richer’ in terms of quality and contentment. His creation is a wonderful, sustainable, comfortable and healthy ‘place’ which cuts new directions in the way we address, build, and relate to that most nurturing of the places – the ‘home’.

The book is a ‘diary’ of sorts, in which thoughts, procedures and development encountered in the building of his home are comunicated, from inception to completion. (To say that the end of build is a ‘completion’ would be a misnomer - this building will inherently continue to evolve through its nature and relationship with the surrounding flora and fauna). He details mistakes as well as solutions, the evolution of ideas and their manifestation. He acknowledges pitfalls, outlines ‘remedies’ and compromise and, importantly, relates how to keep the soul uplifted throughout such an unpredicatable and vulnerable process. It is a low-cost, low-impact structure - materials are gathered from its environs where possible, or else supplemented with recycled products which nature doesn’t provide directly (until the scientists manage to genetically engineer coach windows and stove paraphenalia!!!!!!!).

The explanations, methods and language are non-technical and allow the reader to visualise the procedures whether they have related experience or not.

The begining of the book gives background as the where Tony and his wife are ‘coming from’. They are not new ‘idealistic greenies’ but have a certain pedigree in ecology and sustainable living. Seldom during this project were they an ‘island’, with the author implying that the Roundhouse wouldn’t have come about without the help and encouragement of friends and helpers. From the outset the planning process was stacked against the development.

Throughout, Tony tries to dispel the notion that in order to be green one either has to be rich (to afford all the high tech green techno-products) or a ‘nut cookie’ divorced from the rational, sensible mediocrity of modern ‘civilised’ society. He is non-judgemental in that he acknowledges that many people are doing their ‘best’. Thus this is neither written as a bible, nor as a proscription as the ‘right-way’. It is one family’s exploration and experience of building and living in an eco-way.

The first edition of this book came out in 2001 and so this printing allows for an update on progress and a ‘feedback’ section at the end. The chapters follow a logical sequence for the description of works because the project had the minimum of pre-written plans. This adds to the suspense of the text and gives the project a very natural human feel. The language is warm, friendly and often humorous which makes the reader feel as though it is a friend’s recollections rather than a techno-blurb of impersonalisation. The joys are met by the lows and the set backs by the joys. The processes and materials chosen are explained clearly, often with thumbnail sketches of specific details such as at henge joints, eaves, and duct passages. Although things progress logically, one gets the feeling that the governing feature is exactly ‘what can nature and locale provide?’ There was no going down to order italian marble worktops, or recessed halogen lighting from B&Q!

It is single vision created through the many. The standard events of home building are adapted and modified for self-build and ecological projects. Much of the project is inspired from the concepts of Permaculture which unites all aspects of living – shelter, food, energy needs etc. Through these visions the house becomes one WITH nature and not just one IN nature. It will evolve with time and change with the natural forces. It is eco-friendly, pocket-friendly and soulfully-friendly.

Great read. A little book with a big impact! Sit back, dream...then DO?

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The Green Building Bible Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

Buy individually or both together (PDF and book). Delivery is free!
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