insulation

Musings from Nanyang

So, the 10pm meeting with our European partners came and went. I dashed back from dinner with friends, settled myself to look suitably business like in front of Skype when a text message popped up saying that the people I was to present to had changed their minds and didn’t think that skype was the best way to proceed. They would much rather meet in person!!!

I’m recovered from that now but while I’m on the topic of our European bid it’s a good opportunity to ask for your help. The project is called,’Up Straw’ and the purpose of it is to increase the percentage of public buildings built out of straw in Europe. Thereby decreasing emissions, saving fuel and increasing health. We’re getting to the stage of the final submission, due in December, and I’m looking for matching funding. If you know of any funders who would be interested in joining us please email me eileen@strawworks.co.uk  Thanks.

Another request -the School of Natural Building is putting together a calendar of beautiful strawbale builds for Christmas. Ideally we’re looking for pictures of finished or almost finished houses that our students have worked on. Students, you know who you are and if you have any suitable photos I’d be very grateful if you’d email them to the address above.

Back here in Nanyang I’ve found a yoga class. It takes place every lunchtime so that the lecturers from the university can take part. I’ve exchanged a few business cards in the changing room (never miss an opportunity) and yesterday one of the young biology professors approached me to say that she really didn’t think that straw was strong enough to use as a construction material. She knew of a local company that used straw as a fermentation aid for producing alcohol but certainly not for building. I said that I would bring her a copy of Barb’s book http://strawworks.co.uk/buy-the-book/ then we could discuss it further. She looked pleased but bemused. I’ll keep you informed. I’ve put a pic of the yoga studio below, see the scary fabric and handcuff things? Apparently they are for use during ‘air yoga.’ Happily so far the air yoga teacher has been away in Beijing so we haven’t been introduced to the delights of this yet. I’m hoping she has a long hol.

I’ve been spending a bit of time increasing my Linkedin profile. Does anyone know how to use Linkedin to its full potential ? I’ve started looking to join more groups: green architecture, strawbale building, straw etc. Again (this post is full of requests!) if anyone has any tips, please email them to me.

Barb (my business partner) and I are fellows of the RSA https://www.thersa.org/ and although it’s nice to have the kudos and permission to use the John Adam St headquarters in London as an occasional meeting place we haven’t found much to connect with in the organisation. However, last night my friend Jan Portillo got elected to the board of Trustees, which is great news and we look forward to working more closely with her and the RSA from now on particularly in the area of affordable housing.

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Finally, our Bristol courses are full this weekend but the Cambridge ones due at the end of November still have some places http://strawworks.co.uk/cambridge-preparing-to-build-with-bales/

Just to bring you back to the Chinese theme of this blog I’ll leave you with a picture of the Medical Sage of Nanyang and his mate.

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Final, final stuff…here are my top 10 things I love about straw: smell, texture, insulative properties, the look, the fact that you can shape it, flexibity, strength, the fact that it’s a waste product and is so useful, it’s empowering to work with and it’s natural.

Let me know your top 10 and I’ll list and rank them.

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Categories: bike, blog traffic, books, bookshops, China, Clare Balding, Golden Week, haiku, insulation, low cost housing, Nanyang, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, RSA, Shanghai, Time differences, Top 10 things I love about straw, training for strawbale building, Travel, travel writing, Uncategorized, Working abroad, Writing, writing groups & societies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hi from China! It’s all about timing…

Working for Straw Works & The School of Natural Building (SNaB) both UK based organisations, while living elsewhere in the world has some problems, one of which is timing. Until my friend Mary showed me how to use the weather app on my phone (for those of you of a certain age if you have several locations on your weather app including your own,  press the menu and your chosen locations come up on the same screen with the time alongside – really useful) I used to speculate about the time differences, which meant I was never entirely sure when something was going to happen.

For example, I had a skype meeting organised with our European partners recently. They had kindly arranged to meet at 10am their time so that it wouldn’t be the middle of the night for me. 10am UK time is 5pm for me. The only problem was that their 10am was in France which is 4pm for me. Not realising this I had welcomed in the Chinese Mr Fixit with his drill at 3.45pm my time, I hope you’re keeping up with this!

The drill started just as the skype ring tone began. Needless to say my urbane European counterparts were scathing. So much so that they’ve arranged the next meeting at my time 10pm on a Friday evening!!

Timing can be a problem for family too – note the WeChat (Chinese version of What’s App but with video) call from my sister at midnight my time, she was surprised to see me in bed!

Seriously though, there is only a small window of opportunity to actually talk to people in the UK from here and I am awaiting with great trepidation the clocks changing in a couple of weeks.

Last week was ‘Golden Week’ here in China. A national holiday when millions of people are travelling. We joined in and went to Shanghai. A fascinating city with a fusion of cultures. Here’s some pics.

img_2814  Pudong

img_2888 Night time from the Bund

img_2879 The magnificent Shanghai Grand Theatre

Categories: China, Golden Week, insulation, natural house building, natural plasters, RSA, Shanghai, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, Time differences, training for strawbale building, Travel, travel writing, Uncategorized, Working abroad, Writing, writing groups & societies | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The School of Natural Building

Straw Works Ltd (where I am a director) is proud to announce the launch of our School of Natural Building (SNaB)

School of Natural Building (SNaB)

The School has 3 main aims:

  • to increase the numbers of women in construction
  • to increase the pool of natural builders
  • to promote natural building techniques

If you’re interested in our School, click on the link for more info and email Jane for an application form:  strawworks.co.uk

Categories: Ecobuild, Grand Designs Live 2014, insulation, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, RSA, Stay at homers, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, training for strawbale building | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful, small, strawbale building for sale…ex Grand Designs Live Exhibition

FOR SALE

Small, versatile, strawbale building

This building is suitable as a garden building, an office, a guest room, a teenage crash pad, a studio. It can be used all year round as it’s made of straw and is therefore highly insulated and will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

The building is 4.2m long x 3.2m wide and 3.2m high. At present it is unfinished. It can be bought in this state (see pictures attached) for £17,500. This price includes extra clay for finishing off the internal plaster, French doors with all the door furniture, 4 x double sockets and beautiful Douglas fir for skirting boards. Delivery is extra to the price.

If you’d prefer the building to be finished, Straw Works could do that for you by doing the work mentioned above + foundations, a top coat of plaster outside and sedum for the roof. The finished price would be £24,500 + delivery.

This building was transported from the Grand Designs Live exhibition in London on a low loader to Suffolk where it is residing temporarily. This is the first time a strawbale building has travelled this way! See http://www.strawworks.co.uk/

If you are interested in knowing more about this building please contact Eileen at strawworks@gmail.com

Categories: Ecobuild, Garden buildings, Grand Designs Live 2014, granny annexes, guest rooms, insulation, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, Stay at homers, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, studios, Tiny houses | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Designs Live

New post for May Day!

Straw Works is exhibiting at Grand Designs Live from 3-11 May. We’re building a strawbale house during the exhibition. It currently look slike this….

 

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A bit blurry I know but I’m doing my best!

It’s going to be beautiful and it will be for sale at the end of the Show.  Come and see us if you have time. We’re running workshops every day. We’ve also go a new van.

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Pretty cool eh?

Categories: cool stuff in London, Grand Designs Live 2014, insulation, London, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eco Build

Yes,  it’s that time of year again.

Straw Works will be at Eco Build from Tues 4th -Thurs 6th March inclusive. We’ll be building a temporary strawbale building and plastering it with clay. Come and see us on stand 1660 and give us a hand … or even just have a chat.

http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/Content/Nature-and-the-Built-Environment  This is the link to the Natural Building section of the exhibition – which is of course, the most ‘eco’ part of the exhibition and the most innovative Hope to see you there. Tell your mates.

Categories: cool stuff in London, Ecobuild, insulation, London, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, strawbale building, strawbale building courses | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks so much

Thanks so much to everyone who voted for Barbara and Straw Works.  Barb is through to the last 4 who are going to pitch to Rich on May 2nd.  Straw Works got 39.1% of the total votes. If you’d like to check out the competition go to:

http://tinyurl.com/bvarshj

Good luck on the 2nd Barb.

Categories: casitas, Ecobuild, fitness, insulation, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, strawbale building, strawbale building courses | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vote for Straw Works

Please vote for Barbara and Straw Works, and pass this on to your friends.

Barbara Jones, from Todmorden, has been selected as a semi-finalist in Virgin Media Pioneers Pitch to Rich competition –a nationwide search to find the UK’s best start ups, and needs your vote. The finalists will receive the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch their business to Richard Branson and be in with the chance of winning a prize package worth £5,000.Voting is now open and will close on 23rd April. To vote for Barbara and help her get through to the next stage of the competition visit http://www.virginmediapioneers.com/2013/04/vote-for-pitch-to-rich-competition-finalists/ click on Fill out my form, and vote!

Thanks xx

Categories: casitas, Ecobuild, Hoildays, insulation, low cost housing, natural house building, natural plasters, pioneering building, strawbale building, strawbale building courses | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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