Tune Tuesday.

OOooo boy, looks like we have been working too much on the build site and not enough on the website. Don't choo worry though friends, we got some tasty updates heading your way soon, but first priority is getting the home sealed up! We were listening to this song at the site today and thought that it was good inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!!


Choon Chewsday.

As the AltShift team says goodbye to 2 day weekends in order to get the home wrapped by winter, this week's song (as requested) is Rush's "Working Man".   Here's to a late summer down here in the Southern hemisphere and a pleasant spring in the North!


Full Moon Party at Kings

The full moon was illuminating our spirits on the 20th of March and giving some of the AltShiftNZ group a good reason to celebrate. Standing tall from left to right we find Tom and Travis Jennings, the lovely Laughtons (Trent and Diane), Jared Fone - chugging apple cider vinegar, Loren Polster and Dozzie. Up close and personal are the charming Doug Meyer, Bronie, Teddy, Diana and Roarke Jennings. The event was also a temporary-farewell to Loren, who was a straw bale and earth bag enthusiast, soon to be a resident of Dunedin, NZ.
As the evening unfolded, the lunar display became quite magical and its visionary quality set the tone for the very first party at 97 Kings. This March equinox celebration marked the ongoing learning curve of the EcoBuild and we toasted to the 5 months and 10 days of creativity since the ground breaking ceremony of 10/10/10.
This final photo is one of sweet athleticism and inner calmness. Jared Fone, pictured above, hangs upside down in the suite on the east side of the home. Looking like a bat, Jared certainly displayed his nocturnal characteristics at the evening event.


Working Man

Yes! the tunes were on at 97 Kings and "Working Man" was sending out strong, lyrical messages; wondering if the song, might be 'the hit' of a future Tune Tuesday.
So check it out . . . windows are in the clerestories, bale pile is smaller as straw finds its resting place and sunshine bathes the site on a windy Friday. Tom, designer and project manager, discusses final thoughts with the roofer and is pleased with the end products of a good week- much thanks to friends and dedicated workers, who have become family!

Fine young men on the east side, are putting some finishing touches on the straw bale wall. Doug Meyer is holding a handmade hammer called Thor and is standing beside what has been affectionately called the 'Bethlehem manger crib.' It was made by Doug, to create the width of the perfect bale, which sped up the measuring/cutting process. The boys are applying a wet straw clay slip to better prepare the straw bale for its finishing plaster. Their hands and clothes speak of endless hours in muddy pleasure.
Take time to study this unbelievable craftsman and human being: Simon! He is the TALENT! behind our joinery shop and the best looking windows of the southern hemisphere. Simon is very skilled and humble; he tells the best stories and produces wood work that unveils the nature of the material. One of the favorites on the project, he has been a major player as master and teacher.

The last two photos might give the viewer a 'surround' feeling. The top print exhibits the south side of the home, which will profit from the insulating qualities of the straw bale. The picture above is a shot of the master suite's interior and shows how the sunlight will filter in and warm the rammed earth wall.
As the final bell rang on TGIF, all were ecstatic. There is an incredible synergy on this site and we are appreciative of this good fortune. It is a blessing to work along side of great people and to stand on the shoulders of giants. Thinking of how we all carry a load and offer helping hands, this spirit is truly felt.


Beginnings of Serious Straw Bale

. . . . the 16th of March, the eve of St. Patty's Day, was a very memorable, laborious day at 97 Kings Drive. The energy was high and friend/family united in dream, imagination and creation. Sven Johnston of Sol Design was the straw bale master. With measuring tape on pocket, he instructed with respect and kindness on the process of measuring and restructuring bales, so that they fit perfectly into the buck and beam system. In the image above you can see a beautiful bale needle (a wedding present of Sven's) poking out at a sixty degree angle - its handle pointing to Trent Laughton- design builder extraordinaire!

Our beautiful straw, a rye/corn hybrid wheat, was everywhere. Jared (image below- center) was the king of straw bale cuts with the trustworthy chain-saw. Treble Cone, the central peak in photo, is some of the base artwork of our new T-shirts that will be off the press and on our backs by Friday. In fact, Loren and Roarke, the other fine men pictured below, are responsible for putting together the shirt design.
Hopefully, the earth will have a small, sweet dream tonight, as it reflects on synergies that it has with its people. The remainder of us- let us dream for miraculous, successful endings to a very difficult situation in Japan. There is no better action than for us to unite with the energy of nature, so that the perils of our global family are diminished and safety is restored to their lives.


THANKS! & TUNE Tuesday.

We have just gone over the 5,000 page views mark here on the Alt Shift NZ website.  With visits from over 20 countries around the globe, it is exciting and encouraging to see such interest in Alternative construction!!  Get pumped for some great new material on here as we begin to dive into the straw bale walls, more Superadobe, living roofs, and rammed earth floors!  For this week's tune we turn to an absolute disco beauty that will warm up your soul and put a grin on your face.   Enjoy,

Ascension & Bales

Those of you who have fabricated a set of stairs, know that is not a walk in the park.  Surveying elevations of each step to the millimeter, this flight of stairs is exact and has a quality rhythm to them.  In the pictures below one can see the stack of untreated recycled Jarrah (Eucalyptus!) railroad ties (sleepers).  With a bit of finagling, and much deliberation, the hardwood sleepers where finally put to bed yesterday and here is what the transformation looked like:


As seen above the steps are overhanging and seemingly not lined up, but the next superadobe/earthbag walls will envelope the ends of the sleepers to integrate the steps into the landscaping.  

In even more exciting news, the first shipment of straw bale arrived on site today and have taken up temporary residence in the master bedroom until tomorrow's first wall placing under the guidance of straw bale and alternative construction guru, Sven Johnston from Sol Design. 

To prep the base plates to receive the bales, the Alt Shift crew had a hammering marathon and nailed in approximately 300 nails in order to create a mechanical/key connection so that the straw will 'velcro' to the sills.  Here is a shot down the line:

 Well, get excited for some serious straw bale action coming in the near future and keep smiling!


Tune Tuesday/Wednesday

Working on the stairs up to the front door this week (pictures coming to a weekend near you) is a great change from painting and coating all of the windows and cladding for the home.  For this week's track we present a tune from a group by the name of People Under the Stairs.  Hoping for no relation between the group's name and our set of stairs (unmarked grave), we listen to this song and are soothed by its mellow nature- try it out!



This beauty of a pic was taken by on-site "chippy" (New Zealand lingo for carpenter/framer), wood sculptor, and photographer (-the list goes on): Douglas Meyer.   While Doug may not have reacted as intensely as the Double Rainbow dude (those unfamiliar with the video can view the epitome of emotional reaction: here ), he did take advantage of the week's rainy weather and snap some fantastic pics.  With this hopeful photo, we are all reminded of the beauty and scale of this build, and ponder its relation to the earthly cycles that provide for such endeavors.
Despite the abnormally rainy summer, the crews on site and in the joinery site are chugging along and nearing the milestone of enclosing the interior space.  With Fall starting to drop hints at it's coming arrival, primal instincts for shelter completion are kicking in and upping the pace.  With all hands on deck, Tom Jennings was found working in precarious perches & exemplifying 'sweat equity':

Tom in the 'power-drill' stance!

Jonny on the Study roof ridge
 Meanwhile, over at the Bat Cave (aka the Joinery shop), Simon and his minions have been prepping up timber components and the beautiful windows that will provide solar access to the home.  Here is a peak inside the workshop:

Cedar planks marked for various doors

A near completed door & its frame

Trent and Simon with the master bedroom door

In this sequence one can get a quick idea of the fabrication process of the interior doors made of cedar planks.  In the top photo is the stack of planed down cedar with correlating letters and numbers for the correct alignment.  Held together by wood glue and "biscuits" (which are mini peg like 'key' connections sandwiched on the narrow side of the boards), the timber is also precisely drilled through width-wise for a threaded metal rod to 'clamp' the pieces together (the holes in the sides in the 'stack'/top photo show the viewer that there are 3 threaded rods in each door).  Another exciting experiment taking place in the Bat Cave, is the scaled model of mad architectural scientist Trent Laughton's abstract front door.  Below he can be seen manning the chop saw-cutting down pieces for his top-secret masterpiece.

 Before the straw-bale walls can be placed and packed, the custom wooden joinery windows must be put into the framework so that they can be built around.  Coating these pieces of fine craftsmanship with protective varnishes and stains has been a mission which has been a multi week undertaking, reveled in by Roarke, Jared, Travis, Loren, and Trent.  But the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter, and the boys will soon be back on site working on the entry and earth-bagging.  Here is a small sample of some of there tasks:


 Up and to the left is a frame and it's sash awaiting a final coat.  To the right we have a picture of all of the beads which will help to hold the glass in place, applying coats to them was rather awkward.  And to our left are a few more of the frames and sashes laid out for drying underneath some of the Cyprus weatherboard/siding for the home.  Well, as they say down here in New Zealand (and apparently Charlie Sheen as well), 'we are winning' and going 'full-out'.  As we head towards the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we savor the sights and events of the undertaking and (try to) recognize that without rain, such brilliant ribbons of spectral light wouldn't occur.  Here's to the quest!  


Tune Tuesday (+ Bonus Recipie!!)

Like good music?!  Enjoy good food?  Well hot DIGGITY do we have a winning combo for y'all right hea!  Cook yourself up a tasty garlicky treat from a cookbook we stumbled upon recently, and then let the band Redbone provide your dinner entertainment with their classic feel-good song "Come and get your Love".  Mmmm mmmm!!