El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

La cabaña de Kevin McCloud, el sueño de su vida

Kevin McCloud
Kevin McCloud
Kevin McCloud fuera de su cobertizo
Kevin McCloud built his escape-from-it-all home in the countryside from scratch

Kevin McCloud's modest design: an eco-cabin in the woods
Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud tells Christopher Middleton why building a cabin in the woods for his new series was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

By Christopher Middleton
Image 1 of 7- Man at work: Kevin McCloud planes wooden tiles into shape Photo: JAY WILLIAMS

The end of the working day in rural Somerset, and Kevin McCloud sits on his veranda to watch the sun sink over the Mendips.
Normally, we see the Grand Designs television presenter bestriding some ambitious self-build project the size of a small cathedral. Today, his surroundings are humbler: a woodland cabin between Frome and Shepton Mallet.
But while this quirky residence is not as dramatic as many a McCloud structure, it is, he claims, his ideal home. He built it himself; from the 2,000 hand-planed wooden tiles on the roof and walls to the rabbit-skin rug on his earthen floor.
“It has always been my dream to find a piece of woodland, roll up my sleeves and build my own little bolt-hole’” he says. “This is my own little place in the wild.”
You cannot get more out of the way than this modest West Country retreat. It is tucked away in a discreet dip in the land and is lapped by a stream that winds its way through the trees.

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While McCloud may be far from the madding crowd in geographical terms, he is not a lone voice when it comes to the gospel of eco-friendly self-build. More of us than ever are constructing homes from scratch. We are incorporating green elements not just to save money and the planet, but to catch the eye, too.
“With self-build, there’s always this sense that you’re seeing things happening that will start to appear in conventional houses, not in a matter of years, but a matter of decades,” says Jason Orme, from Homebuilding & Renovating magazine.
Indeed, as we have seen from The Daily Telegraph Self-build Awards, making your home environmentally friendly need not be the equivalent of wearing a hair shirt. You can install vast, triple-glazed windows that not only keep out the cold, but even clean themselves. Heating does not have to be pumped out from lumbering, great radiators, but is wafted gently from a heat-emitting skirting board, known as “thermaskirt”.
And forget about working from the spare room if you are self-employed. You can build yourself an “eco-pod” in the garden that looks like a cross between a giant wooden egg and a covered wagon.
Last year, one out of every 10 new homes in the UK was built by private individuals, 14,000 houses in all. Not only was this a higher number of homes than most large commercial firms construct, but these places were cheaper. The average three-to-four-bedroom self-built property costs £150,000, compared to £235,000 for a ready-made new home of similar size. They will almost certainly cost less to run, too, in terms of fuel bills.
Still, we have a fair way to go until we catch up with countries such as Germany and Austria, where 70 to 80 per cent of all new homes are self-build. But we are well on the way, with impetus from the Government as well as the construction industry.
It’s not all hot air, either. As well as opening up £30 million to help self-builders, the Government has announced sites for groups of people to join together and construct their own homes (see selfbuildportal.org.uk). This will introduce self-build to a broader community than the lone pioneers you see on Grand Designs.
Which brings us back to our man in the Mendips. McCloud set himself the task of not just building his own home, but having a film crew recording his every move, over the year or so (“on and off”) it took to complete the project. The results can be seen over the next four weeks, in Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home.
Of course, this being reality-style television, there are rules.
“The stipulation is that every piece of building material has to come from this wood, or from someone else’s rubbish,” says McCloud, offering me a glass of his home-made marrow rum (delicious once the mould is scraped off – tastes like sherry).
“The aim is to provide a decent level of comfort, while maximising contact with the natural world. We are off-grid and off-mains here. We get by through recycling, reusing and repurposing.
“The question we are asking is whether a life in which we make and do is better than one where we buy and consume. In short, is simple better?”
Well, is it? Ask McCloud this when he is luxuriating out on his front porch, and the answer is a definite yes.
“Take this chair I’m sitting on,” he says. “We created it by butchering an old Grey Ferguson tractor to create the framework. As for the skin on which I’m reclining, well, three months ago, that was a deer running around the countryside. Not only is the end result a thing of beauty, but there is the added satisfaction of knowing you have created it from scratch with your own bare hands.”
The same goes for the house itself, its shape dictated not by an expensive London architect, but by the bent-over oak tree from which the five supporting roof braces have been made. A year ago, the tree was standing in the next-door woodland, alongside a taller, 90ft specimen, felled to supply both building materials and firewood.
“What finer use for two noble trees than to provide shelter and warmth for the people living on the land in which they were growing?” says McCloud. “Yes, we have sacrificed them, but one was far too big anyway. By creating some space, you introduce warmth and sunlight into the rest of the wood. This encourages growth among the seedbank, and the saplings, then allows the remaining trees and wild flowers to flourish.”
Of course, not all of the materials in McCloud’s forest retreat have been supplied by Mother Nature. For instance, the jet engine that serves as his hot tub. Or the hollowed-out jewellery safe that has been turned into his wood-burning stove. Or the former Army truck undercarriage, bought at a military-surplus sale, that forms the base of the entire house.
One wall can even be winched up and down like a drawbridge. It is operated by a combination of springs from a horse trailer and brakes from a cannibalised Fiat. Not forgetting the coffee grinder and cappuccino whisk built into the whole apparatus to provide a touch of sophistication with one’s early-morning brew.
It isn’t all perfect. The earthen floor is a bit crumbly, and the cooking gas (methane harvested from the outdoor loo) sounds a bit unpleasant. But the cabin is watertight and cosy. It even has its own unique wallpaper (old Ordnance Survey maps), and some immaculately installed glazing. McCloud blew the glass himself.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of grand projects in my time,” he says, pouring another glass of marrow rum. “But I think this is the grandest.”

Kevin McCloud wants to buy himself a beautiful piece of woodland, roll up his sleeves and build a cabin in the woods. He has decided that everything has to be made by hand from his woodland, and if it not, then it has to be sourced from somebody else’s rubbish.

Together with a hardy band of friends and experts, Kevin is going to reuse, repurpose and recycle almost all the materials for his bold building in rural Somerset. A place where he can unhook himself from the madness of modern life and live in a different way.

Can a simple, more creative life make you happier?

all photos from Channel 4

Kevin McCloud relaxes at Mellocroft from Mellowcroft on Vimeo.


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