NBAU Blog Takeover – Week 3

Self Reflection

Three weeks into the Nest House project, I have learned so much more than I expected. Each week we get to learn about a different aspect of construction. Starting from structure to electricals and now traditional carpentry. I enjoy getting to know how people came into these other sectors and how broad construction and design skills are.

As an architectural student, learning about construction is helping me to understand practicality in design. Living on the site is helping me gain valuable survival skills and appreciate buildings more. It’s interesting to learn as you go and to experience alternative methods.

This week working on the traditional timber structure, I got to see another side of it all. I understood the difference between Nest House, which is pre-planned, computer-generated and accurate, compared to our campsite structure, which has little to no preparation, no computers and less accuracy. Still, both achieve what they need to, one a home, the other a temporary shelter.


Week 3 – (Super) Structures

05/07/2021 – 09/07/2021

Monday – 05/07/21

Boxes! Hannah and Naomi from Studio Bark joined us this week along with Nick from U-Build. We split into groups focused on building boxes and bolting them together. We bolted the south-facing wall and started placing and bolting in our first roof boxes. The second half of the day was spent reorganising the barn for future deliveries, redelegating team responsibilities and surviving flying tarps.

Tuesday – 06/07/21

We all started by building roof and wall boxes. When not building boxes, we strategically stacked a delivery of roof insulation panels, pinned down flying tarps and listened to Nick’s talk on everything U-Build. Thank you, Nick.

Wednesday – 07/07/21

We started the day with building wall boxes, wiring the house and bolting more roof boxes. Later Matt from MJM Timber Works joined us to help us with our campsite structure. He introduced traditional carpentry and demonstrated how to use tools such as a scrub level, chisel and carpenter’s hatchets. We were split into groups and given different tasks. Some were tasked to chisel the corners until they were leveled, others had to use a chalk line to draw reference lines, and the final job was to make triangle bracing for structural stability. Jamie from Grimshaw Architects and Tab from TRADA also joined us. Jamie helped us out with the timber structure, and Tab taught us how to use The Trucker’s Hitch knot on the flying tarps.


Thursday – 08/07/21

The day began with boxes, cladding and wires. We moved and stacked some cladding to let it dry out, built some wall boxes, and more wiring was done within Nest House. Day 2 with Matt, he taught us how to make mortise and tenon joints with the sleepers. We used an auger drill bit to create holes and then chiseled to make the mortise. We used a lot of saws and calculations to make the tenon. After a lot of trials, we were able to create sturdy joints. The evening was spent moving and reorganising cladding. The weather went from flying tarps to sunburned skin, and everybody was ready for some downtime visiting River Wye.

Friday – 09/07/21

Boxes? On Friday, we had a box free day. We went straight into chiseling and ensured that all the corner sleepers were leveled and ready to stand. Day 3 with Matt, he taught us how to use a traditional levelling tool called a theodolite. We first checked the levels using a laser and marked the correct height of each sleeper accordingly. Then using the theodolite, we made sure all the sleepers were aligned. We then started on the structural frames by creating a temporary jig using scrap wood and spare sleepers. We fixed the sleepers, placed the frames, finished the trusses and screwed in some temporary bracing. Thank you, Matt. We have half of the structure and no flying tarps.



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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