NBAU Blog Takeover – Week 4

Self Reflection

Time flies when you’re having fun.

I am a firm believer in learning by doing, and learning with others, but never imagined I would be participating with 11 other incredible individuals to collectively build Nest House.

Despite spatial designers being creative problem solvers, and generally hands-on people, there is a lack of cross collaboration in our industry.

This week I liaised with our mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) contractor Atamate, to plan our next steps and order more cabling to move forward. I have been coordinating the first fixing on site, supporting a small team in the installation of lighting relays, double socket circuits, sensors and Demand Control Ventilation (DCV) until we ran out of wire…

So far I have really enjoyed delving in and out of such a variety of roles on site, I have learnt so much in five weeks.


Week 4 – Detailing

12/07/2021 – 16/07/2021

Monday – 12/07/21

Alongside the arrival of Lauren from Studio Bark, we also had a cladding workshop, specifically tailored to Nest House, lead by Lewis from TRADA.


The morning kick started with an informal lecture on what variables to consider when using different timbers for cladding and what resources are available (TRADA and BS8417) for advice on class and longevity for various service use.


It is amazing to understand the difference between Hard vs Soft wood, but more so how it grows outwards seasonally, alternating from early to late and at what point fungal decay occurs.


With simple diagrams from Lewis, we could begin to understand how to read the annual growth rings of trees in more detail, taking note of the thickness or early and late rings that indicates how fast or slow the tree was growing, which can affect the density of the wood and the various types of water retention in the cells (Free and Bound, Sap and Heartwood).


It became clear that focusing on material attributes is more important than whether it is hard or soft.


Let the challenge commence….In the afternoon, we split off into teams and set about sketching, measuring and making mockup 1:1 cladding models to present to both Studio Bark and Lewis.

Tuesday – 13/07/21

Making the most of the drier days, we assembled more roof boxes and bolted them together as components so that they were ready to lift into place.


It is so satisfying that visually the dimensions of boxes are clear, because when the ceiling plan reflects the staggered floor plan, it makes it easy to follow.


With the arrival of more M8x65 bolts a floor team were able to snag and infill all floor bolts and inner courtyard wall column bolts, which will be torqued and tightened once the initial envelope is all in place.


All in all, the north wall flew up (Bravo wall team)


Also the BBC came to visit!

Wednesday – 14/07/21

The wall team continued to build up and everyone is super attentive to details and resilience.


Having survived previous weeks wet weather conditions (thanks to the giant tent over Nest House), the tarpaulin is taking a break, allowing the building and us to breathe. The weather has been the polar opposite from previous weeks!


Thursday – 15/07/21

Divide and conquer.

External and courtyard walls were completed, and we were over the half way point for fixing all of the roof boxes into place.


Prior to the arrival of RIBA_Refabricate, we decided it was time to do some housekeeping and move our compostable toilet to the next hole.

Friday – 16/07/21

With the arrival of RIBA_ReFabricate (ReFab), we had all the energy needed to see us through a sizzling summer day.


In teams we buddied up with ReFab. members to give them a broad collective sense of Nest House, utilising them across the project; we built the final parapet boxes, bolted the last of the roof box components and raised the roof (literally).


Jamie Pearson from Grimshaw Architects also gave two students a mentoring session (Thanks Jamie).


We celebrated our progress and efforts, marking the end of week 4 with clients Francine and Stephen, ice lollies and good company taking photos along the West elevation.


Super Saturday – 17/07/21

Raise the Roof


With the support of ReFab we were able to complete the lower barn project in our campsite. The stud framed walls, diagonal bracing and assembly of the eight roof trusses, braced and tarped ready for lift off.


Come the end of a very long and hot day, we mustered up the energy for that last push (which we couldn’t have done without ReFab).


With human and DIY prop support, we lifted and situated the roof on the barn; it did not take long to move in. Now we have the pleasure of using this space until the end of the program.


Thank you RIBA_ReFabricate, woodwork Matt and all that helped us make a timber barn from off-cuts, scraps and reclaimed railway sleepers.



A note from Studio Bark

No Building As Usual is an ambitious student build project running for 10 weeks over the summer of 2021. The programme addresses the climate emergency, diversity in the built environment professions, and the need for cross-industry collaboration.

Many thanks to blog and NBAU project collaborator NMITE

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