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Lammas eco village

summer 2011

The Lammas self build project at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, Pembrokeshire, is Wales’ first collective initiative based on what is now the (TAN)6 national planning guidance for sustainable rural communities. (One Planet Development).

Planning permission has been granted for nine houses (four of them in a terrace and the others as individual plots), with very strict conditions relating to low ecological impact both in the building and running of the development. The site is set in rolling rural pastoral landscape with some woodland

Formed within a wider co-operative support network, and with the aim of encouraging this type of living elsewhere, the principles of Permaculture are central to the development.

It is still early days (July 11) and the residents have been busy mainly with establishing the permaculture gardens, orchards, woodland, polytunnels etc. and building barns to keep tools and produce, so there is not much to see yet in the way of houses. However the construction methods so far have been mainly based on roundwood timber frames with lime rendered straw bale infill. Mostly turf roofs.

Andy and Jane, with help from volunteers are just completing their barn. Their target was to source all their materials for it within a five mile radius and this they have pretty much achieved.

As straw was not available close by at the time, they went for hay bales instead. (Andy says hay bales are considerably more difficult to work with than straw).
Their food production is going well. This is a small part of it.

food production

Some of the buildings are using reciprocl frame roofs made of roundwood felled and harvested from the woodland on the edge of the site. The poles overlap and support each other so no centre post is required. Designed in the right way, it is possible to leave the centre empty and have a lantern there so that daylight is available in the middle of the room. The barn that Cassie and Nigel are building has this type of roof and they have recently been lime plastering the inside of the straw bale walls and the ceiling. There is a ‘Living in the Future’ video showing the practical aspect of building such a roof featuring Tony Wrench

lime plastering

Lime plastering. Outside, the roof is turf.

Along with growing food they are also busy with forming a natural swimming pool. It’s pretty much full time work at the moment though Cassy does also run a business around the creation of willow and play structures for schools, communities and gardens

natural bathing pool

a beautiful window in their barn

Catherine and Leander have nearly finished their barn.

Catherine and Leander's barn

The dark green membrane below the floor is to prevent radon gas (natural to the area) from entering the building.

inside the barn


base walls

Kit and Saara have just got started on their foundations and base wall which will probably be carrying straw bale walls

They are the family who have made the most use of mechanised equipment. They are not averse to using a digger when the need arises. Otherwise people are using mainly hand tools.

The whole development will potentially have access to a considerable source of renewable energy eventually. There is an existing but out-of-use hydro electric generating setup running off a river nearby and it may be capable of nearly 30kW of output when the turbine and generator are restored. Still, you get the sense, talking to people, that there is a reluctance to go down the road of relying on large amounts of generated energy.

Jasmine and Simon have also built a roof with a reciprocating truss and this building also benefits from a long conservatory used for growing food.

Jasmine and Simon's house 1

the conservatory

inside the house

Other plots are less advanced. Here’s a nice roundwood structure going up

roundwood frame

Jude is a relative newcomer to Lammas and here is her poly tunnel frame ready for skinning.

poly tunnel

Central to the whole development is the communal building known as The Hub. This was built with the help of a DECC Award and is nearing completion.

The Hub from the rear

The Hub from the front

See also the Lammas web site.

7 comments to Lammas eco village

  • Gordon Clarke

    I just have to question the last comment. We thatched our own roof, and grew our own wheat straw to do it with. We found a local retired thatcher who taught us and some students how to thatch in 2-3 days. We even used home grown bamboo for the liggers. It is not perfect, but has been up a good few years now. You can see it here:

  • Bingo Tad


    thatched roofs have been used for hundreds of years but they are hard to do and you have to get a professional thatcher or do months if
    not years of training to get the technique right.

    How do you get an architect to build you a replica of the Solcer eco house at Brigend? Do you think maybe the council has the plans from when it gave planning permission? Should I approach Prof Jones at Cardiff Uni directly?
    They did it to prove it can be done using existing products readily available on the market for the same cost as most new builds.
    They had SIPS = structural insulated panels, a 6.7kw battery, glazed roof made of pv panels, grid tied as well to sell off any surplus not used, A+ rated appliances, underfloor electric heating, mechanical heat recovery system, direct air heating under the glass roof, insulated and air tight. It was launched with a press day last week.
    One day all homes will be like this.

  • Edward Daly

    I have just watched ‘The House that 100k Built’ on Australian TV with Andy & Jane’s project. Can someone give me an update on how they are going with their home?

    Kind regards

  • ashildr

    Prue is a good video that shows the way the beams go together. The roof is covered with a cotton lining then insulation and then a plastic liner before turf goes on.

  • prue

    can u explain the concepts involved and how the beautiful circular roof is constructed. What is the logic of how it stays up? the sod roof must represent a large loan
    d. How do you make a straw roof waterproof? Greatly appreciate a relpy, please.

  • peter chester

    im a horticulturalist living in brighton i have a background in shortlife housing coops and was raised in pembrokeshire. im very interested in joining lammas with a view to buildig a house for myself and my girlfriend who is an artist

  • peter chester

    i have looked at the project and am very interested in joining the coop if possible. im a horticulturalist with a background in shortlife housing cooops in brighton also i was raised in pembrokeshire and am keen to return. are all the plots taken? how do i go about obtaining a plot for myself and my girlfriend?

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