NBAU Blog Takeover – Week 1

Self Reflection

I found learning about alternative foundation methods this week particularly interesting. Sustainable architecture is something I’d like to focus on, especially finding ways of using materials with low embodied carbon. I feel that I have benefited from seeing each step of the process; the architectural drawings, to being able to measure, cut and assemble the timber beams accurately. Seeing the different components coming together was so rewarding, and I am excited to move onto the next part of the build.


Week 1 – Foundations and Components

21/06/2021 – 25/06/2021

Monday – 21/06/21

The morning started with a visit from Alistair from Structure Workshop, who gave structural advice for our campsite structure and looked at the pile foundations we had created. He also gave a talk on alternative foundation methods, and the embodied carbon associated with different foundation types. Soil types were also a focus, and we learned how to distinguish the strength of different soils, by using bore holes.

Later in the day we were introduced to the film crew, who will be documenting the project. They took some shots of the campsite and workshop. Our ‘friars of food’ changed for the new week, we had a delicious squash and potato soup as our evening meal.

Tuesday- 22/06/21

The morning began with a wake up call from one of the students, who makes sure everyone is up on time to have breakfast. We organised the U-Build box ‘components’ (groups of connected boxes) in the workshop and created level work stations from pallets to prepare for making them. For the rest of the day, it was all hands on deck, trying to make as many boxes as we could.

Wednesday- 23/06/21

We continued making U-Build components in the workshop, which we then carried up to the site of the Nest House build. We came across some errors in the U-Build components, which resulted from this being a new iteration of the U-Build system which is being trialled at nest House. Without delaying the program, these issues were solved through routing. A couple of students were inducted on using the router, to ensure the floor boxes would fit together.

Thursday- 24/06/21

We were faced with more challenges on Thursday, as there was heavy rain, so our plans for the day had to change. The U-Build boxes couldn’t be assembled on site, as the rain would have damaged them. We resorted to making more space in the workshop for every group to have a station for assembling the components.

Friday- 25/06/21

The sun shone once again, so we were able to continue carrying the finished boxes to the site, to be assembled to the timber beam structure. A couple of students helped set out the larger box components, using the 3, 4, 5 method, ensuring that it was aligned correctly. We encountered issues concerning the larger U-Build boxes, so we tried out different methods of jacking up the centre of the joining pieces, with a lever consisting of spare timber pieces. We also had a visit from Tabitha from TRADA, who asked each student about their thoughts on the project so far, and helped us with a few of the tasks. She also brought us some homemade apple cake, which we were all very thankful for, a great treat to help us get through the day. On Friday’s, we have a moment of reflection from the week, which is a great way to discuss what we have learned so far.


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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