There is nothing new under the sun as the old Welsh saying goes . A small National Trust cottage in mid Wales, Pontbremydyr (the wooden bridge over the river Mydyr) has what you would say are all of the ingredients for a cutting edge eco house. Made of breathable and very local clom (clay and straw mix), breathable lime paints, local straw roof, small low heat loss windows with all of the materials coming from a few hundred meters away But this eco-cottage is over 300 years old. Recently the National trust completed ‘footprint’ building near St Cathryn s in the Lake District. A very green education building with all of same green credentials – clay, straw, wood and recycled materials. – sound familiar? interesting no mater how far we travel we end up in the place we started – clay, straw and wood does work in the damp uk
I’m glad to say that we are rediscovering what took our for-bares thousands of years to work out. What works where, why and where can you get it. The days of moving materials round the world economically (in terms of money and not sustainability) are running out and rediscovering and understanding of how materials work is only now begin realised by the mainstream. Although there have been beacons of common sense trying o persuade us for years. For example that working with moisture is much easier and healthier than trying to ‘proof’ a building (damp, mold, condensation) SPAB, Ty Mawr, CAT and so on.
The small cottage in question has not remained in the C18 The C21 has something o share and the cottage now boasts a veritable Aladdin cave of the latest technology including biomass boiler, ground mounted solar thermal, wool insulation, rain water harvesting (but at the end of the day it’s still being heated by the sun, wood and using rainwater – nothing new there!)
lets learn from the past to make sure we have a future
(PS the tin roof on the cottage is an indication of ‘progress’ when the train arrived in the area in C19 bringing in the new fangled ‘corrugated tin’ the thatch roof underneath has been left as we think it is one of the few surviving ‘long straw’ thatch roof’s in Ceredigion.