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the first wofati - allerton abbey- version 0.7  RSS feed

 
Jesse Grimes
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I got a request for some better perspective on the building, so here are some pictures:

This is the uphill side, the wider part of the T shaped floor plan.



The first picture is a wider view of the site, looking a bit like a construction site right now. Allerton Avenue, the access road is off to the left where my truck is pointed. The uphill side is the left, downhill is right. It is on a pretty mellow slope. One of the things Paul wants to do differently in the next Wofati is choose a site with a steeper slope, so that more of the dirt for the earth berms can come from the uphill cut.

The second picture is the downhill side, which I have been working on. Paul considers this the "front" of the house, which makes sense if you are walking to the site from ant village. Evan's plot is closest to Allerton Abbey and is about 100 zig zagged yards down the path between those two dirt mounds.
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Dillon Nichols
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I'm wondering if light clay could have a place in awkward areas like the one around the door. If you have a bit of clay on hand, you've clearly got the straw required to make this...

I've only worked with it(briefly!) in the context of a framed wall, where it was easyish to add plywood to both sides for a form prior to tamping. Here, you have the existing wall as one side of the form already.. A chunk of plywood on the inner side that screws into the existing wood and is moved up as you finish each section, plus a thin(temporary?) sheet where the light clay meets the strawbale...

Not sure how one would work around the sill, but the upper part looks fairly straightforward past there. There would be some when you near the roof, as well.

I don't think tamping would work well without starting from the floor, and doubt that you feel like redoing the completed section, which is looking good!
 
Jesse Grimes
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Dillon Nichols wrote:I'm wondering if light clay could have a place in awkward areas like the one around the door. If you have a bit of clay on hand, you've clearly got the straw required to make this...


My understanding is that clay straw mix, even heavy on the straw, is more of a conductor than an insulator. The purpose of this wall is to be super insulative, so pure straw it is. The whole thing will be covered in cob, which will seal out any air leaks, and the door is going to be something like 7 inches thick and packed with wool.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Jesse Grimes wrote:
My understanding is that clay straw mix, even heavy on the straw, is more of a conductor than an insulator. The purpose of this wall is to be super insulative, so pure straw it is. The whole thing will be covered in cob, which will seal out any air leaks, and the door is going to be something like 7 inches thick and packed with wool.


Interesting... the mix I worked with was definitely light and airy; it was easy to believe it would be a good insulator. Looking around, I see a few places stating an *estimated* R19 for a 12" light clay wall, which would be ~R1.58 per inch... (http://www.designcoalition.org/articles/Natural_LHJ/liteclay.htm
)
'The Natural Building Companion' characterized light-clay as the second most insulative common natural building, behind strawbale.

I'm seeing results from R0.94 to R2.68 per inch for strawbale... This test achieved a measured R1.45 per inch from strawbale: http://web.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/AWT/HotboxTest/Hybrid/StrawBale/


*If* that estimated R value for light clay isn't off by more than a third, it's at least in the same general ballpark.


Cob over that door surround should look great. Not having to wait for light clay to dry before it's a good insulator has something to be said for it, too. Winter is coming!
 
Jesse Grimes
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Sorry I haven't posted an update in a while. I have been slowly plugging away at the downhill wall on Allerton Abbey, while focusing more of my energy on building a winter shelter on my Ant plot. I cam to the conclusion that the project was too big for me to take on while also trying to establish my own homestead in the Ant Village. I am finishing up the downhill wall, and Paul is looking for a natural builder to finish off the project and collect the rest of the bounty. He posted about it in this thread.

I have had two gappers show up in the last week to help out with the project and much progress is being made. Thank you Kai and Jake! Kai and I started out by finishing off the last of the framing pieces, such as the door lintel, and filling in the gaps around the poles with straw. We created the shapes we needed with expanded metal lath and then stuffed the cavities with loose straw, then packed it tight. This was really helpful for filling in the complex spaces around the posts and joints, and Kai and Jake were really good at it.


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Scribing out the notch for the edge of the door lintel
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Metal lath holding the straw around the post joints
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Kai and Jake being awesome
 
Jesse Grimes
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Over the past few days, gappers Kai and Jake have been cobbing like mad and have finished covering the outside of the downhill wall. One layer to fill out the low spots and even out the wall, and another layer of cob plaster over that. Its looking pretty sharp. Thank you Kai and Jake!

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Kai filling in the top of the wall
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Jake and I with the finished wall
 
Sue Rine
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It's looking like a house!
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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What's that pipe sticking out of the lower left hand corner of the wall? Maybe I missed it some place, but is it anything significant?
 
Jesse Grimes
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The pipe was a last minute addition. It is there in case we ever want to install a sink and have a drain out the wall. Much easier to install a conduit now than to bore a hole through the wall later.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Cool, good idea! Thanks for the insight.
 
Miles Flansburg
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How about an update.
Is anybody living here for the winter?
Anybody keeping track of the temps etc?
 
Tim Skufca
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Miles Flansburg wrote:How about an update.
Is anybody living here for the winter?
Anybody keeping track of the temps etc?


Yes, it would be quite useful/revealing to get some data for the performance of both of the WOFATIs
 
paul wheaton
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We don't have anybody that is currently dedicated to staying the whole winter there.

Kai is there now, but will be headed out for the holidays.

Evan and Sharla will be back in a few days and it sounds like they will stay there.

The key to all this is that we cannot do a full ATI test this year, because the final door didn't go in until november - and it was already damn cold. So it is safe to assume that the mass is also damn cold.

I talked to Kai about the idea of doing a test: take the temp up to 85 at least once a day for ten days, and then go ten days without any additional heat and see how that is. He said he would contact evan and sharla and see if they would help with that experiment.

 
Jason Marlow
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That sounds great. Keep us posted on the results. I'd be very interested in hearing how it goes.
 
Ty Morrison
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(Note: I have revised the Concept Aerial to address some of the dialog that follows, all wonderful suggestions)

This should be obvious to me, but the cold has apparently affected my brain. Are Wofati 0.8 and Allerton Abbey one and the same?

Wasn't there also another Wofati that Tim was going to build?

I am still totally stoked by the Wofati experiment at wheaton labs.

Using my modeling skills, I have built a concept model to illustrate the simplicity of the concept.

I made these diagrams to help others visualize the concept.

Of course, these are JUST diagrams that help explain Paul's brilliant insight into such structures.

This concept is scalable from small to large. Trombe walls are way more complicated than straw-bale, too. But they might have some advantages in digger designs with bigger budgets.

If you can move the dirt, you don't even need a hill to dig into. That makes the north side drainage considerations almost non-existent. Still want to keep the north side daylight small as it is almost always cold and therefore a great way to lose heat you are trying to keep in the winter. There is also a need to make north and south windows operable to use air movement to control temperature inside and improve healthy quality of air.

I have an animation as well, but can't figure out how to share it here.
Wofati Concept Plan.png
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Floor Plan of Concept
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Cross Sections Through Concept
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Aerial Concept Diagram
 
Jason Marlow
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It's my understanding that 0.7 and 0.8 are the same structure only with enough modifications to alter the thermal performance. Can anyone verify?
 
Len Ovens
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Ty Morrison wrote:This should be obvious to me, but the cold has apparently affected my brain. Are Wofati 0.8 and Allerton Abbey one and the same?

nope, 0.7 = Allerton Abbey.

Using my modeling skills, I have built a concept model to illustrate the simplicity of the concept.

I made these diagrams to help others visualize the concept.

some comments:
The insulating qualities of earth while a part of the equation, are not the reason to use earth at all. The main consideration is storage and rate of heat travel. That is, it would be easy to have more heat storage in a smaller volume (water for example). Also note the there is generally a layer of material above the earth for the purpose of insulating and water sealing to keep the earth dry. Heat travels by more means than one and earth umbrellas rely on all of them. Earth that has been heated at the hottest times of year in a trombe wall will be emitted quite soon and probably before it is needed/wanted. heated earth 12 feet away from the dwelling will let it's heat take as much as 6 months to reach the dwelling and start releasing that heat to the interior. So earth has the quality of cheap, but massive heat storage, but also slow heat release without manual intervention with the right design.


This concept is scalable from small to large. Trombe walls are way more complicated than straw-bale, too. But they might have some advantages in digger designs with bigger budgets.


I don't know that I would put a trombe wall on the south side. It is hard to know what would work best with that.

It is (another) interesting coincidence, that the materials on hand seem to be the best materials for the job.

 
Len Ovens
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Jason Marlow wrote:It's my understanding that 0.7 and 0.8 are the same structure only with enough modifications to alter the thermal performance. Can anyone verify?

0.8 is a second larger structure.
 
Jason Marlow
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So they are two separate structures entirely!? Wow, you guys put them up pretty quick, then.
 
Len Ovens
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Jason Marlow wrote:So they are two separate structures entirely!? Wow, you guys put them up pretty quick, then.

Heres the thread:
http://www.permies.com/t/33160/labs/wofati
Much bigger inside:
http://www.permies.com/t/33160/labs/wofati#376480
 
Jason Marlow
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And Ty, I really like your design. One of the main criticisms I have for some of these Wofati designs is just how small they are, which is fine for most people but others (such as myself) have rapidly expanding young families. And in colder months it's nice to have some room so occupants may retain some personal private space.

I have an idea for a circular wofati with a greenhouse dome/atrium in the middle. It would be 6 wofaties arranged in a hexagonal pattern, where it slopes away from the center. The sloping sides would have gables pointing downward and away from the greenhouse. This way, in the cold ourdoor months, you can still have some "outdoor" space with plenty of sunlight and also extend your growing season. I know that greenhouses can be somewhat controversial among permaculturalists, but they're also a nice way to maximize the output of your land and control every variable of growth, resulting in the capability to farm lucrative rare herbs for sale to the nutriceutical industry.

I'd like to share the design once I have it more developed. I call it the "Earth Mothership!"
 
Ty Morrison
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Thanks.

Thermal lag has always been an important part of passive design. I used the R value to answer the question I get frequently as part of an introduction to why this is such a great idea, the umbrella is a significant enhancement. I will also re-post to include the protective layer that you mentioned. What is your recommendation on the minimum coverage at the change in planes at the ceiling/roof?

I find we could use a Mechanical Engineer to run a model analysis. that way we could tout EUI, Energy Star, USGBC, Daylit Area and Passive House ratings!
 
evan l pierce
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While integrating solar orientation into a wofati makes good sense, the wofati concept doesn't directly rely on it. Instead of necessarily aligning with the sun, a wofati is aligned with the hill. Drainage being of primary concern, wofatis have an uphill patio with drainage ditches that redirect water coming down the hill away and around the structure. So, not only does a wofati not necessarily have the open uphill side facing the southern sun, both Allerton Abbey and 0.8 are in fact aligned closer to having primarily western exposure. The idea being to test the concept of annualized thermal inertia without direct passive solar gain. Again, integrating paasive solar design into a wofati is a great idea, (in my humble opinion,) but these two wofatis in particular are built on roughly east-facing slopes, and so have uphill patios roughly to the west. Hope this helps.
 
Tim Skufca
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Some of the biggest challenges in both 0.7 and 0.8 WOFATIs is that there wasn't much slope. This causes a huge issue of excavation, and hauling in material to cover the structure properly. Also, getting proper drainage away from the building when there is no slope is another difficult issue. Oehler's tried and true (and cheap) examples were always on a slope.
 
Len Ovens
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evan l pierce wrote:While integrating solar orientation into a wofati makes good sense, the wofati concept doesn't directly rely on it. Instead of necessarily aligning with the sun, a wofati is aligned with the hill. Drainage being of primary concern, wofatis have an uphill patio with drainage ditches that redirect water coming down the hill away and around the structure.


Yes, One of the things often not discussed or thought about is the wall opposite the uphill side of the wofati. In the original "underground" homes that the wafati is based on, there is a vertical wall about 10 feet away. The main reason is to form better water ways for drainage as mentioned. I think this wall also provides two other important functions. This wall is right across from the wall of the wofati with the most windows. My opinion is that the wall also acts as a radiated heat reflector. While glass has a poor R-value, it is even worse for it's ability to transmit radiated heat. This can be felt in a heated room (comfortable) where the part of the body facing a window with no window coverings will feel cold. This wall, if it is a light gray colour will actually reflect heat radiated from warm objects in the wafati back into the dwelling. I do not know how much this helps... I have never measured it

The wall also helps form a walled patio area. This will keep the air in the courtyard from moving around as much and it will tend to be somewhat warmer than air that is affected by the wind. This means that even though the windows have a low R-value, the temperature difference makes that R-value have a greater effect.

Ah, here is that third point people always make after claiming only two points I think a walled courtyard gathers solar heat (and light) no matter which direction the wafati is faced. I am assuming the lightest possible colour using local/found materials. Sun bleached wood or dry gray stone or adobe.

So my opinion is that the courtyard (fully surrounded by a vertical wall is best) is more important than than it is given credit for... in fact it does not seem to have been considered at all in any of the lab builds.
 
Ty Morrison
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I agree that the labor savings of going into a hill or ridge is worthy of consideration, especially when all the labor is human-powered.

Seems I saw an example for a hot-wet adaptation where the soil from the evaporative cooling pond was used to pile on top of the surface built Wofati structure. Especially practical if you have access to a bulldozer and a front-end loader or the likes.

In other flat spots, the Kiva and Hogan which is partially or wholly submerged and balances the labor of cut and fill too.

Certainly in the hot-dry climates the walled courtyard has proven to be a winner for centuries.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I understand that one of the criteria that came up after the original design was to make them invisible from above therefore no uncovered roofs. But if that is not of concern I think covering the earth umbrella with a metal roof for water collection where water is scarce such as has been don in the SW would be valuable. A water tank could be put in the corner between the wide and narrow sections on each side.
My design would continue the roof with transparent material over the patio with hugal berm to absorb the water from the greenhouse roof. Winter gardening on the inside of the hugle during the winter and squash vines growing up the roof from the outside of the hugle during the summer for shade. Making optimum use of zone one for food production combined with weather protection.
To simplify the keeping a uniform depth of the earth umbrella I would make the logs for the roof make a compressive arch by stepping them in gradually.
If I get caught up I would like to download Sketchup again and do my shiplaped log design.
 
Ray Cecil
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Why not cover the roof as originally designed, build a seperate roof cover for an outdoor pic-nic/meeting/shade spot. That roof can be your water collection area. Then you get the benefits of the thermal mass on top of your dwelling WOFATI
 
Alan Loy
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If the Wofati is earth covered then surely the water run off would be managed as part of the overall site strategy.

Having said that water flowing of a roof into a tank is an easy way to get drinking water and one that is used here in Oz a lot (our water never goes solid). As we face yet another drought it would be a major design consideration for me.
 
Len Ovens
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Alan Loy wrote:
Having said that water flowing of a roof into a tank is an easy way to get drinking water and one that is used here in Oz a lot (our water never goes solid). As we face yet another drought it would be a major design consideration for me.


This response is also for the above note about water harvesting.

Man has been drinking water from streams and wells for thousands of years. I do not think it is necessary to use metal roof to collect water for drinking (I just got email from the school as I am writing this... "Please be advised that there is a boil water advisory for Courtenay" ). I think it should also be possible to collect water from a live (soil with plants) roof with no ill effects. Running it through a sand filter may make it look nicer though
 
paul wheaton
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Tim Skufca
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This is beautiful! It would be good to get the stats? Give us some temperatures - indoor/outdoor comparisons. That shouldn't be hard to record.
 
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ahhh so beautiful! i haven't seen the abbey in all her finished glory yet til now -- amazing work people!

sending y'all love from the rainy coast
 
paul wheaton
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Allerton abbey still isn't quite done. There's about a thousand dollars of cob work to do.
 
Tim Skufca
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Sure, there will always be elements that could be better, but this is no reason to not test the space in the interim. Put some statistics out there for 2015 - and then in 2020 you can see what was accomplished.
 
Len Ovens
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Tim Skufca wrote:Sure, there will always be elements that could be better, but this is no reason to not test the space in the interim. Put some statistics out there for 2015 - and then in 2020 you can see what was accomplished.


I agree. I have been surprised at how much difference even a wind block (even with 6inch wide slits) is in changing how it feels to be inside. Considering that Mike O's version worked as well as it did with no insulated umbrella, in fact not even vapor barrier beyond right next to the logs... I would expect this one to already be better with just someone living inside. The amount of heat given off by one human plus cooking only is already more than neutral. The magic 21C? I would guess not. That may be the ultimate goal, but I think it would probably be livable for the right person. It would also be interesting to see how much wood it takes to be comfortable as an insulated stick house of similar size with similar heater. It might be more while the mass is being heated. but that is ok if it gets less over time.
 
Julia Winter
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See Evan's thread - they are collecting data on interior and exterior temps right now.

http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/520/45960 (scroll down until you see the picture of Allerton Abbey)
 
Len Ovens
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Julia Winter wrote:See Evan's thread - they are collecting data on interior and exterior temps right now.

http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/520/45960 (scroll down until you see the picture of Allerton Abbey)


You mean the little USB deals in this one? http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/520/45960#421950 I wondered what those were... good to know.
 
Julia Winter
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Exactly! (Folks, follow Len's link to get you right to the picture) I couldn't figure out how to link to a particular spot on the page, and it's right at the bottom.
 
paul wheaton
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Daniel and Sharla had me buy these two thermometer contraptions.

Here are the results of starting to run fires inside, including getting it to 85 for the first time.



The mission is to get to 85 at least once a day for ten days in a row. And then to not run any fires for ten days. Then we might see something indicative of ATI at work.

 
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