With the leaves tinging red and cold-fronts becoming more frequent, the advance of Fall is bearing down on the Southern Alps of New Zealand.  To prepare for the oncoming winter there has been a stint of plaster work occurring at 97 Kings Drive, most noticeably on the SuperAdobe/Earthbag walls out front.  We are very pleased to present you with some shots of the more finished look that the Earthbag walls will have once it is all said and done (especially for the neighbor's sake!).  In order to make the plaster a bit more weather tough, hydrated lime has been added to the earthen plaster mix for the SuperAdobe walls (around 20% of the mix).  Applied over the course of two days, the plaster is 4-5 inches thick (100-125mm) and is a bit of an experiment to see how the mix performs through the winter months.  With the masterful float technique applied by Greg Tump, this wall section is showing some great promise in the aesthetic department.  Check out the process below and throw any questions comments or ideas or way PLEASE!!  PEACE!



Mr.Olympia Type of Oil-Down

Imagining that the timber work of the eco-home on Kings Dr. was entering the Mr.Olympia contest, we oiled them down til they glistened.  Boiled Linseed Oil (aka Flaxseed oil) was the protective rub of choice, as its transparent nature allows the grain of the wood to show through as opposed to wood stains that mask the natural look of the wood.  Made completely of Cedar offcuts from the home's doors and window joinery (done with extreme precision and quality execution by Simon Guest) the door is quite a visual stunner of patterned patchwork. 
Right next to the door is the Jarrah post that supports the triangular sod-roof section over the front door.  After a quick sand down we applied a coat of half Turpentine, half boiled Linseed oil, and boy was it thirsty.  Now it looks like a piece of art. 

Now for some slightly random tid-bits for fun.  First up is a great visual example of a swale.  Struggling with the idea after being told various explanations, it was awesome to discover this simple diagram.  Swales are not only an important landscaping element for keeping runoff away from your home/foundation- they also play a massive role in permaculture to maximize rainwater distribution to garden systems.

Next is a radical artistic construction by model maker Takanori Aiba.  Imagining what tree-houses would look like in Bonsai trees- he sits down for weeks at at time and makes it happen- dedication!

Finally we have a relatively simple structure/ shelter that spans a creek with quite possibly the coolest hang out spot ever suspended over the running water below- madness!

Thanks for tuning in and look for the next time-lapse installment from the street side view coming soon to an altshiftnz.com site near you.  PEACE.


2n 2sday

Used in the movie soundtrack for "Super Bad" this track is pretty bad az.  Please enjoy and feel free to download!!


Recent Site Pictures + The Magic Melt

Realizing that there haven't been many 'big-picture' photos lately, we'd like to give you a refresher on what it's all looking like on the larger scale.  So we present you with a couple snapshots taken from a few steps back. Starting with a view from the study roof, we'll take a virtual walk around to the street side to see the new SuperAdobe progress that has been taking place. 

Taken from the roof above the Study looking at the pop-up and 'green' roof area.

From the north east point of the section, the home looks solid and dynamic.  The tarped piles are clay that we have been using in the EarthBags and earthen plasters. 

Here you can see the second tier of SuperAdobe bag that went in last week.  The wall is 'toothed' / 'stepped' at the moment to remain flexible in its form to accommodate the garage's final position.  In other words, the second wall is going to be higher and longer than it is in this shot.

 Looking towards the awesome front door crafted by Simon Guest (master joiner) you can see the ramp we have put in place on the top set of steps to run the wheelbarrow up and down.


Working with SuperAdobe for long hours builds up quite an appetite, and this past week saw the AltShift boys on a skint budget with limited ingredients.  A new holy grail of food was discovered under the circumstances, and we'd like to share it with you.  Dubbed 'The Magic Melt', the creation is a combination of garlic bread, stir-fry, and avocado melt.  

Basically without going into too much detail (but feel free to ask questions), take a nice oversized piece of bread (preferably focaccia or ciabatta) and toast it lightly so it is a bit crispy.  Make yourself some garlic butter by melting a good 3-4 tablespoons of butter with 4 cloves of garlic on the stove.  Drench the bread with the garlic butter. Take an avocado and mash it up to create guacamole and spread it on the bread Then prepare some stir-fry with your favorite vegetables (we had mushrooms, broccoli, carrot, and kumara (sweet potato)) and place them on top of the avocado spread.  Next comes a slight fork in the road where you can choose to take it to a new level, or just throw the cheese on and call it good, but if you want to experience the full magic you'll need to fry two eggs.  Attempting to keep the yolk liquid-y, place the fried eggs on top of the stir-fried vegetables, and then blanket it all in a few slices of cheese. Then pop it into the oven to grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese and then bust out the fork and knife and prepare yourself for a treat- you won't be disappointed!


Interesting Architecture in Ferro-Cement

Just recently saw some pictures of a resort on the French Riviera called the Palais Bulles and then badda bing bada boom, found myself eye deep in various other ferro-cement structures and websites.  There is a pretty in-depth explanation and history at this link, and also check out the video below for a tour through the 'Bubble Palace' on the French Riviera- pretty wild stuff!! ENJOY.

INSANE Interior space in the Palace of Bubbles, Cannes, France.


TUNE Tuesday Valentine's day edition

Happy Valentine's day y'all!! For this Valentine's Day edition of Tune tuesday we have a downloadable remix of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" re-worked by a very talented Australian producer A.Skillz. Enjoy and have a love filled day!!

                                                                   *** UPDATE ***

It looks like the Al Green Track was only available for download for a brief time on Valentine's Day so we have replaced it with a new jam below of a few classics mixed together by LeBron- have fun!


Weeeekend Supplements.

SHU-wee!! It's another round of weekend supplements where we throw a few entertaining (but oh-so-random and unrelated to alternative-building) bits your way to enhance the weekend experience. On the menu today we have a few tasty images to get you started, a groovy new disco track for dancing and appetite building, and then some AltShift Burritos (or the recipie at least- it's not like we can attach 'em to an e-mail for ya!) for the main course. Hope you're hungry!

First up (above) we have a couple of images from Wanaka based artist Pol Sifter who has some very clever and interesting work feel free to check out more of his work here

Click on images to get
larger view
(just trying to save space!)

To the right: A great use for old light bulbs and to the left a very sharp looking He-Man and Duncan. If you're looking to really throw some time in the trash in exchange for a good laugh check out this He-Man music video.

This track (downloadable thanks to the generous GMGN dj team) will definitely make you want to STOMP the floorboards (or whatever you may be standing on (hopefully not a glass table top or frozen pond)). Big thanks to Matty J Blige for the tip on this disco fireball!!

Now for the main event: AltShiftNZ BURRITOS

So, first and foremost you gotta make sure you ROUND UP some quality ingredients:

Beans: Ideally you soak and cook your own raw beans of your choosing (black/pinto)
mash'em up yourself but it's ok to grab a canned re-fried beans for a shortcut.

Veggies: Make sure to grab some onions, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, and plenty of
avocado. Also garlic is the secret ingredient here so have at least 4 cloves.

Rice: We usually cook up some rice with peppers and salt in it to spice it up a bit, but at times if were feeling like some extra nutrients will substitute Quinoa for the rice-
very good.

Cheese: Hi-grade block for grating or (pre-grated)

Tortillas: Again, depending on time constraints we sometimes make our own crepe like
tortillas, but usually buy pre made ones. If you're feeling especially industrious,
check out our Weeeekend supplements Crepe edition for a refresher on crepes.


Start by dicing up all the veggies (minus the avocado and garlic) into bite sized pieces and sauté them in a large pan with oil (we recommend coconut oil as it adds an awesome taste).

Throw the rice or quinoa on another burner (water ratio for rice = 2 water to 1 rice and for quinoa = 1.75 water to 1 quinoa).

Grab a pot for the beans and once the veggies are adequately sautéed throw them in with the beans and heat on low. At this point get the garlic magic working and (preferably with a garlic press) add 4-6 cloves of garlic to the beans.

Once the rice or quinoa is done get your tortilla / crepe ready and lay down a strip of bean mix and rice in the center. Slice the avocado up and put a few slices on the top of the strip along with some grated cheese. Wrap the tortilla up (we fold the ends closed width-wise and then wrap/tuck length wise).

Now here's were the extra AltShift love comes in: pan frying the burrito! To do this successfully place some grated cheese on the inside of the tortilla flap from the wrap/tuck which will act as a glue to keep your burrito sealed. Add a bit of oil to a pan (or better yet use a brush to apply oil to the burrito) and place the burrito flap-side down and cook on medium heat until golden brown (minute or two). Flip and repeat. There you have it!! Class A burrito action! If you have any questions on the process give us a holler in the comment section.


Livng Roofs!!

Sharing experiences and thoughts of the eco-build on 97 Kings Dr. has always been the number one aim of this blahg, and honesty and openness of this experience is vital to the progression and whittling down of the alternative-build process to become a more simple, and truly ecological undertaking.  One aspect of the home that we may wish a time machine rental-shop existed for, would be the 'green' roof.  Due to it's near 225 kg/square meter (500 lbs/ square yard) loading of soil and plant matter, the extra engineering required in the design of the sod roof on our project has made the cost ticker jump quite a bit, and the added engineering was just the beginning to the investment increase.  Necessitating nearly 4 times the amount of joists to support the turf roof area, as well as local regulations calling for an extensive waterproofing system, the material expense has also been a bit frightful.

The waterproofing process has been a bit of an interesting procedure that seems to be at slight odds with the whole ecological ethos of 'green' builds.  Below is a cross-section of the living roof system:

And a brief sequence of application of the waterproofing system by New Zealand's Nuralite company.

Somewhat needless to say, this method of water-proofing is nearly second to none in effectiveness and quite bulletproof.  But nearly equally needless to state, is how chemically and carbon intensive it is.  There is not much natural about it, and the processing and creation of such products makes a 'greenie' wince.  This is not meant to vilify or condemn Nuralite, but looking back on the very large and time-tested history of living roofs, it isn't hard to see the environmental disparities and stray from the truly natural & original technique the Scandinavians and Icelandic began back in the middle ages.

So, to get a clear  and more balanced picture we have performed a bit of research into said roofing history.  Due mostly to lack of resources, the ingenious people of Scandinavia & Iceland developed the method of insulating and 'shingling' their roofs with sod.  With the absence of Nuralite and bitumen dealer, the people of these countries turned to the bark of Birch trees as their waterproofing membrane like many other observant native peoples of the world have, check out the birch bark canoe below!!

After placing a layer or two of birch bark down they would then lay a sections of sod with the grass face-down to help prevent the soil (preferably quite sandy for good drainage and minimal humus/organic material) from decomposing the bark to quickly.  Another layer right side up and it's nearly there.  To hold it all in place the use of 'turf-logs'.  In the rough schematic below  you can see the birch bark 'leaves' beneath the two layers of sod being held by the 'turf-logs'. 

This post seems to be getting a bit long winded so if you feel so inclined please check out this link here to get the rest of the story, or ask away in the comments section.  Thanks for reading and look for some Weekend Supplements coming up soon! 

UPDATE:  Look at this 'all-in-one' sod-roof tiling system pioneered by Toyota of Japan- wild!

 Here is a link to a site that talks about it briefly: click hur


Tune Tuesday.

Boy do we have an absolute treasure of a track for you below. Originally prophesied by Tower of Power back in 1974, a French producer by the name of Funk Blaster has reworked it ever-so-slightly for one of the better downloadable tracks I've seen in some time. Unlike most songs, this track becomes more relevant every passing year. Please take a minute to listen to its wisdom.


On-site Casualties ( Warning: Graphic Images Below )

Last week saw the first casualties on site since Raymond (the lemon tree) back in June 2011 - needless to say it was a bit emotional.  Black Betty, the beloved AltShiftNZ tamper who has compacted hundreds of meters of SuperAdobe for us, broke her neck the other day in a strenuous bout of Earthbag thumping (be warned: the following images are of a graphic nature).

Above, a slight closeup of where the pipe failed just above the gussets that provided connection and support to the tamping plate 


To the right is a picture to get an idea of the thickness of the pipe.

An interesting case study in the field of material strength and fatigue.

With a little welding surgery and a brand new set of gussets, Ms.Betty is back smashing the massive 20" wide Earthbags from Cal-Earth at 97 Kings Dr.- take a gander at her new neck:

 Black Betty forming the retaining wall and top tier of the 
SuperAdobe landscaping on the West side of the home.

The other (more catastrophic) fatality, was that of 'Thor Hammer', a creation handcrafted by DIY specialist Douglas 'Murphy' Meyers.   Originally built for 'persuading' straw bales into their ideal place,  the wooden mallet was subbed in for tamping the Earthbag after Black Betty lost her head.  Within a few swings, the 'Thor Hammer' exploded, and was laid to rest.

Above, Doug shouldering his timber sledge back in March 2011.

'Thor Hammer' remains.

A bit of a tearjerker, 'Thor Hammer' will be remembered fondly and buried on site (service date and time to be determined).  May your tools stay healthy!!


Tuned Tuesday

Triple your pleasure triple your fun- that's the statement of a great hint, three songs - done.

* Top two are downloadable via Soundcloud.   "What It Is" (the second track by the aptly named group "The Undisputed Truth") has a lengthy build up (approx. 6 min.), but make sure to listen to the last 3 minutes at bare minimum so you don't miss out on a masterly groove.  And for all the ABBA fans, Scratchandsniff does a pretty classy mash-up of two all-time greats.
Stay Excellent.


Weeeekend Supplements.

Continuing with the new tradition of passing along a recipe on Weeeekend Supplements posts, we present you with another relatively simple breakfast beauty:  French Toast.  Let's roll up the sleeves and get into it shall we?

Ingredients (yield of 4 slices)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (add more milk for softer / not as egg-like french toast; or add less milk for firmer, more egg-like toast)
4 slices of bread (It is ideal to have a solid loaf that you can cut your own thick pieces off of, the bread is real important, so get a quality loaf)
A good amount of butter for greasing the pan (or oil)
Optional (but recommended):
1/2  teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 - 1 teaspoon nutmeg cinnamon (or both)
1 teaspoon of sugar

  1. In a bowl mix eggs and milk, and optional ingredients as desired.
  2. Heat up a frying pan, skillet or griddle to a medium-low temperature.
  3. Use butter, margarine, or cooking spray on the pan.
  4. Soak a slice of bread in the egg-milk mixture and place on pan; repeat until pan is full.
  5. Get a nice golden brown hue on both sides of the French toast.
  6. Serve on plates, usually two slices per person, with toppings as desired.

 If you're looking to take it to the next level you can make French toast sandwiches with a variety of fillings in between two slices such as Nutella & banana, cream cheese and berries, but make sure you involve butter and maple syrup too.  So now a nice mellow song by MF Love (downloadable) to play during prep and some pictures to distract you. 

One of the coolest and most clever alarm clocks I have ever seen, hopefully you didn't have to use one of these today!

To the left we have a sweet mini hedron planter.

To the right is a sharp looking example of a tree house-jealous?

Lastly is a sweet little 'cave' made out of CNCed plywood.  To check out the full article from JUXTAPOZ magazine, click on the image.  That is all for today, but check back tomorrow for some pics of the recent SuperAdobe action on site (some pretty crazy pics of the steel tamper we broke (yeah we're that strong)).  Stay excited, and keep moving!


Post Carbon Institute & Visual Candy

No matter what your personal beliefs are on 2012, the end of the world, or the possibility of Dick Cheney becoming dictator/evil emperor of the world after his invincibility surgery - one thing is for certain: carbon based energy will be taking its leave from the world energy scene within the century.  On what scale of time and proportion this depletion occurs is debatable, but come the year 2100, the chances of seeing SUV's rolling around on gasoline is highly unlikely.  If you haven't heard of the Post Carbon Institute it is high time you got acquainted (click the link), it's a near guarantee you will become good friends.  Aside from publishing thought-provoking and educational articles, they also have recently put together a well done 30 min segment on the benefits, consequences and general relationship between man & oil.  Please check out the link here to visit the page on the Post Carbon Institute's website (they provide information on presenting it to your local community if you're feeling especially pro-active), or just check it out right here @ the bottom of this post. 

Now for a couple sweets for your eyes.  At the top of this entry is a photo by Jan Kempenaers.  Over the past few years he traveled throughout former Yugoslavia and photographed old abandoned war memorials.  To view more click on the photo at the top for a link to a site.

Next treat comes from Dutch artist by the name of Ron van der Ende.  He salvages wood pieces from scrapyards and dumpsters and after working them and painting them, pieces them together to create amazing bas reliefs.  Here is a piece of meat he created out of wood that is nearly 6ft. long! click on the image to be taken to his site.

And finally is another appropriation art project that was spotlighted by Juxtapoz magazine.  Entitled "The Boneyard Project", a handful of painters and graffiti artists went down to Pima Air Force Museum & Depository in Tuscon, Arizona and some how managed to gain permission to paint a few old fuselages- pretty rad stuff.  Once again, click on the image to be taken to the article by Juxtapoz magazine to see more.

Well, thas about it for now, but be sure to go to the postcarboninstitute.org site and take a nose around, and set aside a half hour to watch the video they produced below.  Keep on rocking in the free world.



Working in silence is just about as torturous as working in a water reclamation plant with out nose-plugs- it's crucial to be rocking out and vibe-ing on some quality jams to work to one's fullest potential.  SO, today (as you may have realized from the post title if you're sharp) we have two hi-grade rump-shake inducing tunes that you should enjoy not only during work hours, but early hours on weekends as well.  First is a awesome Meters song all the way back from the late 60's re worked by DJ Yamin.  Secondly we have another rework of a track entitled "Never Too Much" by Forecast .  Both tracks are downloadable, but be sure to at least send some love to the producers via thought power or go and say thank you on their Soundcloud page


The Meters-Hand Clapping Song (DJ Yamin Remix) by DJ Yamin

Forecast - Never Too Much (Shield Your Eyes Re-edit) [WARPed] by shieldyoureyesmusic


Weeeekend Supplements.

As we are about to get back onto the SuperAdobe walls this week, we wanted to provide a link to go and check out what SuperAdobe / Earth-bagging is all about.  In the past we have talked about Nader Khalili and his revolutionary, and awesomely human-scale alternative shelter creating technique of SuperAdobe, but it is just too radical and important of a method to mention once or twice.  Back in 1991 Nader (originally from Iran) founded Cal-Earth Institute in Hesperia, California.  Since then, the institute has been enlightening and training individuals to fabricate shelters out of a rammed-earth type of process.  So without further ado here is the link to Cal-Earth's website - please do divert some of your online time to the exploration of this site!  (Also if you are in the Southern California area- or willing to travel there, the Institute has an open house for visitors the first Saturday of every month, and is always welcoming to visits at anytime).  Here are a few examples of the domes and vault work they accomplish:


Because it is the weekend (and we met our relevancy quota with the above paragraph on SuperAdobe), it is time for a treat or two.  Weekends are about sleeping in a bit later than normal and making killer, un-rushed breakfasts.  We would like to present a simple recipe for crepes (pronounced Kreh-pa for crying out loud!) for you all to enjoy on your days off.  For a scrumptious breakfast within inly 15 min wrangle up these ingredients for a yield of about a dozen 10" diameter crepes :

3 eggs
1 ½ cups of milk
1 cup and 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour (or wheat flour)
2 table spoons of sugar
1/2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of melted butter (may be replaced by oil)
Optionally (but highly recommended), we usually add in about 2 teaspoons of Nutmeg and Cinnamon

Making it all happen:
1. Sift flour and mix with salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Make a well and pour in eggs. Beat them silly.
3. Slowly pour in milk while stirring. Keep stirring batter until small bubbles form on the surface.
4. Stir in Butter.
5. Stir in sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Batter = done, now getcherself a 10" minimum diameter pan and put the burner on about 3/4 intensity.  Butter or oil the pan (butter is a bit tastier) so that the bottom of the pan is adequately covered (but not too much) and once the butter/oil is hot, poor in about 4-6 tablespoons into the pan- swirl the batter around so that it spreads thinly and evenly.  Let it cook for around a minute (dependent on your burner) and flip with a spatula.  The other side cooks more quickly so be ready to pull it off in about 30 seconds.  And Voila (vwa-LA)!, you have yourself some Krehps- Uh-ha-huhn! (<--attempt at phonetic French laugh).  Cover and fill with just about anything that sounds tay-shtay- we like to smear on Nutella, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon-sugar, bananas, berries, cream-cheese, peanut butter, jelly, honey.  Here is a picture for inspiration:

If you want to get real crazy into it, there is a video on this website here, that shows an ultra-orthodox version of authentic crepe action, but be warned- it's extreme.

Lastly we bestow a couple (downloadable) musical tracks for you to possibly cook along to.  The first is an hour long mix by a very talented Denver-based DJ by the name of Bobby C Sound TV- it'll get you moving:

Then we have a disco banger rework by Sammy Bananas that will most definitely have you beating crepe batter like a french junky.

 Happy weekend to y'all and Au Revoir!