The Natural Building Collective has shown what it really means to be innovative after revamping the Ulwazi Educare in Delft, Cape Town to accommodate 120 kids using tyres, ecobricks, cob, reclaimed materials from the film industry, glass bottles and reclaimed doors and windows where possible.
The building officially began taking shape at the beginning of October 2021.
The Natural Building Collective uses buildings to connect, create, empower and educate. They share their knowledge and experience, through their blog and natural building courses, on how to build sustainably with earth and other natural materials.
“Having spent time on site prep prior to this we were able to start pounding tyres the moment Rob, the site foreman, was onsite. Having just completed work in Helderberg Nature Reserve, we were able to utilize parts of the team trained there for this project, as well as source local labour to make up a second team,” says Peter McIntosh.
So far, they have utilised 1800 tyres for the government Depot where the tyres were originally collected in Atlantis. The Waste Bureau donated transport for the first load of 1000 tyres at the beginning of the project and the rest were collected by the NBC team when they were needed.
The tyres were laid in rows and rammed with compactable earth until they are solid or ‘pumped up’. Each row requires the tyres to be of the same depth when laid flat so, 265 mm deep tyres were selected for the entire tyre wall including the foundations. Once the tyres were compacted, they were 300 mm deep.
Having a huge depot to select tyres from made this approach possible. The fill material for the tyres is from recycled building waste, mixed with earth from a site excavation to make an easy-to-compact material.
“Once the walls were up we began looking at cob mixes we could use for the pack out of the tyre walls as well as the glass bottle and ecobricks walls. After a false start with the right clay, not always easy to find because its located on private property, we were donated clay from Spier, thanks Angus and got about 30 cubes dumped onsite,” McIntosh adds.
The clay was mixed with sand and straw to make cob and the packing out of the walls are well underway. Ecobricks fit into the gaps between tyres. The outside walls will get a final cement plaster for ease of maintenance and the inside walls will get a lime plaster.
“We had some volunteers onsite and visits from interested people from all over on a regular basis. Participants from a past course started the cobbing and I hope to have loads of volunteers when the time is right. A couple of short courses were held for CPD point for architects in collaboration with STADIO, which is an idea that can be developed in the future. We are really hoping to have a lot of help from volunteers once the roof is on and there are those tasks that are well suited to creative folk,” says McIntosh.
Currently, they are busy with the ring-beam and then its time for the roof.
“Thanks James Fernie and his organization Uthando South Africa who support projects all over Cape Town and their wonderful funder for the project, Mitialto. Angelique Smith Voulelis, Helen Lieberman. We really really hope to see you there. Keep your glass bottles please we will need a lot. Also, you are welcome to drop off your eco-bricks, if they are nice and firm,” concludes McIntosh.
Picture: Facebook / Peter McIntosh