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Just add water

These are the ingredients for making cob, or more to the point the updated version of cob, cobbauge, that they are developing at Plymouth University. I’ve been down there the last couple of days, filming in the lab. Finished up by collecting all the ingredients together – (clockwise from top left: ballast, cob, light earth, clay slip, flax, hemp shiv): but then Kevin, the man in the lab, mentioned the one missing ingredient, water. The whole process of earth building is a dialogue with water, in the making, in how the light earth gains its strength as the water evaporates from the clay slip allowing it to bind the hemp shiv together, and continuing when a house is complete and the walls remain porous: their ability to absorb moisture one of the advantages of earth building. But we have an uneasy relationship with materials that aren’t static: they either have to be perfect or broken, in our thowaway society. So how do you feel about living in a house where the walls breath?

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