Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bag End in Wales

"Hobbit" House for 3,000 Quid

 ~ Despite lacking a round door, this really does look like something out of Tolkien:

Wales hobbit house with earthen roof

Pictures of the interior evoke the coziness of the fictional home of Bilbo and Frodo:

Wales hobbit house interior

The article is rather light on details, especially the construction. It does mention that locally-sourced and re-purposed materials are used, which is good sustainability practice, and probably how more and more buildings will be constructed in our energy-constrained future.
The interior walls were finished off with breathable lime plaster which has a much lower embodied-energy footprint than cement, while all of the flooring, finishings, windows, plumbing—virtually everything inside—was re-purposed from discarded scrap materials. A wood burner heats the home, and an ingenious system that pipes cool air in from underground keeps the family refrigerator at an optimum temperature. A skylight fills the small home with natural light, water is sourced from a nearby spring, and solar panels provide all of the electricity the Dales need to power their musical, computing and lighting equipment. For people who lack both formal qualifications and stacks of cash, this amazing hobbit house puts the dream of living in an earth-friendly home firmly in reach.
What it doesn't describe is how that roof is made, or rather, made to last. There is ribbing of tree trunks with laths made of branches.

Wales hobbit house roof construction detail

Then straw bales for insulation are piled on top. What isn't clear is what, if anything, else is layered in before the whole thing is piled with dirt and grass seed. Finishing the interior with plaster is both beautiful and keeps insects from nesting in the straw, but what about moisture leaching down from above?

Still, it has a compelling, if rustic beauty:

Wales hobbit house front entrance

Wales hobbit house interior looking out at greenhouse

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