Making Laboratory

Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Wales

More about this project

Starting from experimental making with a limited range of materials, learn to make building elements which fit loosely together to form buildings which sit appropriately within the slowly changing physical and institutional topography of the city.

Since 1985 over 100 week long courses have been run, by Maurice Mitchell at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. The course aims to provide students with the opportunity to design and make buildings using materials found on site or available locally. Skills are site based, focusing on those of mason (wet trades) and carpenter (dry trades). Many of the research led live projects in the ARCSR area have extrapolated building elements and research methods which have emerged from this course.

A hands-on construction project runs throughout the 5 day course. This involves all students in a cyclic process of experimentation and focused group criticism followed by modifications to the original proposal. As the course progresses and the skills, ambitions and interactions of the students become clear, a built form evolves which is quite unique. The final product, which is left standing as students leave is more a large-scale model than a finished building. Its form, never predictable at the start of the process is a way of learning about the process by which technology and human agency are transformed into a culture of making with a civic and ethical content.

The seeming triviality of the objects being made is banished within the group as the work proceeds by constant self-conscious communication and iterative endeavour. Meaning is attached to the building elements being made by clearly identifying prototypes and other precedents. This consolidates the learning process. The end of the course is marked with a review conducted by the students in which lessons learned are made explicit.

Centre for Alternative Technology

Images

 Earthblock Arch and Timber Formwork
Earthblock Arch and Timber Formwork

 

 Thin Pole Roof Structure
Thin Pole Roof Structure

 

 Transporting Hyperbolic Paraboloid Roof to Site
Transporting Hyperbolic Paraboloid Roof to Site

 

 Ferrocement Gutter Fixed to Larch Pole Frame
Ferrocement Gutter Fixed to Larch Pole Frame

 

 Earth Balls
Earth Balls

 

 Lightweight Roof
Lightweight Roof

 

 Timber Lamella Roof
Timber Lamella Roof Assembling the parts

Assembling the parts 

 Lamella Roof and Slate Wall, Stairs and Bench
Lamella Roof and Slate Wall

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts 

 Plastering Straw Bales
Plastering Straw Bales

 

 Recycling Packing Case Timber Stair and Suspended Floor
Recycling Packing Case Timber Stair and Suspended Floor

 

 Ferrocement Septic Tank
Ferrocement Septic Tank

 

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Students making at CAT, Wales

Appropriate Building Methods

5 day workshop course at the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT), Machynlleth, Wales from 21st to 25th July 2014.

http://courses.cat.org.uk/sustainable-building/a-way-of-building-detail

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