Tapeley Park, the country estate of landowner and environmental activist Hector Christie, is a melting pot for low-energy building methods. Mr Christie intends to have the whole estate generating its own electricity by the end of next year.
In a quiet corner of the estate is a small strawbale cabin built by Rupert Hawley as a “green building” workshop for people interested in low-cost, lowenergy building methods. The cabin is constructed with straw bales stacked up like giant Lego bricks and pinned together with lengths of hazel and steel reinforcing rods. The thick straw walls, rendered inside and out with a rough mixture of clay and sand with a final coat of limewash, provide ample insulation.
A reclaimed wood-burning Rayburn doubles as a cooker and central heating, while two nine-watt solar panels provide enough electricity to light the cabin and run a laptop.