Toby has been part of the building project since its inception. Lately, he had devoted most of his energy to the roof garden: laying the gravel, constructing the garden beds around the rim and erecting the paling fence. Pippita’s class have helped out too, filling the beds with soil. As spring draws closer, vege seedlings will be planted, each class assigned a section of garden.
Jason Dash is the manager of Kindlehill’s building works. His has undertaken the daunting task of constructing and renovating a series of buildings that, if conventionally sourced, would cost way in excess of the available funds. Plus he is passionate, nigh obsessed, with keeping the building process as environmentally sustainable as possible. In short, he must source large quantities of material that is recycled, salvaged, substantially discounted or free. And somehow, he manages to pull it off.
Since his student days, Jamie, one of Kindlehill’s two architects, has been interested in sustainability in all it’s aspects. Design is fundamental, but there are considerations beyond the drawing board. A state-of-the-art solar passive house may be energy efficient though not be constructed from sustainable building materials.
In his search for solutions, Jamie discovered the limits of high technology and is now moving towards low tech materials that are locally sourced, produced from minimal processing and carry a low embodied energy.
Have you heard of the Ikea Effect”? It’s a term coined by a Harvard academic to describe the enhanced affection a person has for an object they made themselves, even if it is a wonky bookshelf from Ikea. At Kindlehill, the “Ikea effect” is in full flight, as the construction methods for the new buildings allow the school community to hand make everything from windows, to chicken roosts to daily meals.
Every Tuesday, Amy devotes a good part of the day to preparing a feast for Kindlehill’s wwoofers.
Last week she made spinach pie and brownies. The week before it was mushroom lasagne and strawberry flan. This week pumpkin cannelloni with a tomato sauce and salad was on the menu followed by pear and apple crumble with double cream.
She and Jamie even managed to whip something up the week their fourth child was born. “I didn’t want to let them down”, she explained. “Because of the baby, I physically can’t do much at the school right now, so this is one way of doing it.”
For Amy, good food is more than nutrition but the core of life; the simple act of sitting down and sharing a meal is a foundation stone of society. It’s also a way of showing a wwoofer – a traveller living in temporary digs, a long way from home – that someone cares about them.
Food enables Amy to express her take on life.
Georgina leads the Window-making Group, one of four parents who have volunteered their time to create bespoke windows and French doors for the school. (If you want to admire their work so far check out the new windows in Kindy).
Georgina is a fine wood maker with fourteen years experience crafting everything from high-end, sculptural domestic objects to a house. Most of her work demands exacting levels of precision, so the rustic, organic nature of Kindlehill’s windows is a chance for her to loosen up a bit. “It’s a freer, easier process” she says, “more whimsical and fun”.
Kindlehill’s team of artisans bring an impressive array of skills to the building process, but perhaps the most eclectic craft belongs to Matt, who specializes in pre-medieval construction techniques.
A native of Kent, he grew up surrounded by centuries old timber buildings, but thought little of them when he turned his professional attentions to mechanical engineering. But clearly something took root. In the early nineties, he could be found trawling the woods, mobile sawmill in hand, looking for unusual timbers to mill. With the resurgence in traditional building techniques, he began to learn the old ways of building.
Rudolph Steiner was an architect, as well as a philosopher, scientist and social thinker. A quick glance at his major buildings – The First and Second Goetheanum and The Stuttgart Eurythmeum – show an abiding interest in geometric forms. Steiner contended that too many straight lines, flat planes and right angles, stifled the imagination and bred conformity.
Pippita and Lynne have set their own challenge. Over the holidays they sculpted a stairwell rail that evokes a twisting vine. Pippita came up with the idea after she heard that the garden between the spiral shell and original building will feature rainforest plants. The stairwell, at the lower end of this garden, with carry this theme up the stairs.
The new verandah near the entrance is a beautiful creation, that provides shelter from sun and rain. Now that it is complete, the front garden has been tended to by the younger children.