EDIT: Link to Nick’s Blog
One problem with categorising dates by the weekends i.e “First weekend in June” is you forget what other events approximate to it, such as a friend’s birthday. So where was I instead of reconnecting with old friends? In a field, in Devon, with a bunch of strangers. I will be vague with names since I cannot recall which individuals requested not to be photographed and uploaded.
Meet Nick. Nick has been living in a field for a few months. He decided he would like to live off-grid in a sustainable fashion and that his housing solution would be a Hexayurt. We were supposed to build it in December with the aid of wind, rain, and limited daylight but that had to be delayed. In the meanwhile Nick lived in a van, and we waited for the sun.
True to form, no one had any idea of what we were going to build, not even me. Nick wanted to build a the first ever double osb hexayurt. Vinay was caught in a clash of schedules and was off doing something that I assume is cutting edge and revolutionary. I on the other hand had to feign authority and tell a buch of men twice my age how to build a structure someone else had to actually live in.
Everything was wrong, the screws were almost what we needed, but without the partially unthreaded shaft they weren’t pulling things tight. The blocks were cut elegantly but in a way that left the screws sticking out, and the block to connect the right hand and left hand roof pieces were not cut. All because the hexayurt documentation is in shambles. My attempt to clean it up has been on hiatus. These are all issues easily avoided with 5 minutes of face-to-face conversation yet somehow the transition from air to paper robs the very same words of their clarity.
Everyone involved, 7 in total, were very practical people. The first hexayurt went up very easily, the second easier still. All large men so, although awkward, we were able to lift the roof with only a little difficulty. The issue of how to reach the final screws in the roof is still unresolved and we would have struggled if it were not for a very very tall Mark.
The join between the two hexayurt was totally mismanaged. For fututre reference, simply build two hexayurts, line them up, then fill in the gaps from the outside. But the hexayurt is a forgiving structure. The second hexayurt had one wall missing and a sagging roof. The sagging roof had to be propped up by a rather pleasing natural wood feature.
I wonder what will become of this patch of ground. Nick mentioned something about running practical sustainability courses there. Not a demonstration center filled with concepts and dead dreams of the 70s but somewhere that lives or dies on the success of its ideas, because at the heart of it will be Nick, experiencing the realities of everyday use of these concepts. Somewhere where designs are implemented, and every project is a product. I imagine Engineers Without Borders – UK, south west branches, could do a lot with this land. We cannot address global poverty and sustainability with solutions we are unwilling to adopt ourselves.
The hexayurt has led me to meet strange and wonderful people, and do strange and wonderful things. That weekend it led me to a do something rare. I gave a stranger a home.