Eartha the Early Bird, Tiny Cabin, Hampshire, UK
'The early bird catches the worm' - The cabin serves as a movable SAWA office, to be on location living in and creating regenerative systems.
With future prospects of upcoming projects having live-in teams for extended seasons, SAWA has embarked on a personal project to build its own tiny home. Now where ever we are needed SAWA can travel in the comfort of our own home! The brief was to build a compact home for one person utilising as much permaculture and natural building principles as we can muster, and to build this on a 2 x 6 m re-used car trailer with a maximum weight limit of 3.5 tonnes, to be deployed on AND off grid – which is no easy feat!
It has been quite the project – and being one so personal to SAWA, an extraordinary time of learning and growth. It is wonderful to say that it has safely flown the nest and landed in it’s new home on Springham Farm, May 2021! Ed is settling in and making a house a home.
Central the design brief to create maximum flexibility and sustainability in an ever changing world where nothing is certain , Ed wanted the design to be able to be ON and OFF grid. It is clear to me the self sufficiency and and autonomy are the most sensible and approach to sustainable design. Increase independence rather dependance.
Sun in Summer and Wood in Winter
Heating water has biggest draw, in summer there is plenty of sun and much energy to cook and heat water with. In winter we need more energy to heat the house, cook and clean, with the Wood burner Range, this means we can do all of this, with little electrical energy from the sun. A season adapting energy system, that is powered on sun in the summer and wood in winter. The system has inverter for using 230 volt AC and DC 12 volt systems fro their appropriate uses.The best fo both worlds.
Operating on both solar energy and a wood burning stove, the water for the house is heated by a seasonally adaptive system ready to create lovely hot water all year round.
During the summer months, when there is an abundance of sun, the photovoltaic solar panels feed energy to an electrical heating element in the hot water tank. In the colder months, when the wood burning stove is being used to heat the house, the back boiler behind the stove takes over from the solar panels, powering a second heating element in the hot water tank.
The system is fed by rain water transferred to a header tank through rain harvesting gutters on long sides of the pitched roof. Once collected the water goes through a biochar filter, so as to become drinkable, heated, then sent to the taps through gravity fed pressure. Whilst the wood burner is in operation a smaller tank transfers heat between the back burner boiler to the hot water tank via a closed loop water circuit. Water heated by the back boiler is fed to the hot water tank where it powers the boiler via a heat exchange system.
This (Cedar Clad, Douglas Fur frame) timber cabin has been designed with permaculture and regenerative design principles to be in line with the laws of nature, i.e. sourced locally green from friends from sustainably managed small scale forestry businesses.
With the intention to be able to move this home into any rural site, with minimal interventions made to the land. With no waste principles all organic materials are carefully managed to make maximum value to the farm, and biodiversity around us. With bio logical detergents and biochar and sand filters , all grey water from showers and kitchens are cycled back the land. Hu-manure is composted correctly in connection with the soil.
So to leaves the soil will be better off with all the composting and seed sharing and planting SAWA will do.
WOOD FIBRE BOARD
The tiny house showcases our first use of an exciting building material that is gaining traction in the UK market – Wood Fibre Board! This wonderful product allowed us to create a breathable building envelope, and remove the need for plastic damp proof membranes. The boards interlock together to make a water tight barrier which lets water rest on it and evaporate or run off, while still allowing the building to breath so allowing air moisture to pass in and out the building to maintain a comfortable, breathable internal environment. It has an ash-ing technology which means the wood fibre microscopic shape when on fire it DOES NOT BURN! is self ashes and extinguishes itself! Lastly it has a great THERMAL MASS! which means I can have me fire going in winter before bed, the fire will go out naturally after 3 hours, but 9 or so hours later when i awake, the whole house is still warm. The Material acts as a battery for heat, it stores it in the material!
The boards were easy to work with, and meant we could allow our volunteers during the workshops to take part in measuring, cutting and installing the wood fibre boards.
The scale and construction methodology of the build allowed us to get volunteers involved in all elements of the project, to get a taste of what it could take to make a tiny house for themselves!
Within the workshop, volunteers learnt about design, timber framing, using hand and power tools, cutting and measuring, and assembly. SAWA believe in sharing a good ideas, full happier healthier planet for all.
Through networks established through last years workshops, collaborators and learners from near and far have returned to the Tiny House project to help out. Many hands make light work!
Projects of this type can be acheived on a range of budgets. Bringing the cost down while maintaining a high quality end result can be done from being thrifty and reclaiming materials from skips, reclamation yards, and even on road sides. An excellent example of this was a set of wooden double glazed windows found in a dumpster. It is amazing what people throw away, and re-using materials continues that items life cycle and holds the embodied energy that went into making that material in your building.
With the external work complete, and the Early Bird successfully moved to it’s first site, focus has shifted to make a house a home, and gently working on the interior details to make the cabin a comfortable and functional domestic space.
Collaboration has been fundamental throughout the project. It has been a pleasure to engage so many people with SAWA’s work and spread knowledge and awareness as well as empower others to be able to self-build and start their own tiny house projects!