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all your building culture are belong to shakers

hopefularchitecture | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

“green” building is supposed to be pre-oil, pre-product building.

The only suitable building materials:

  • Lime putty
  • Sand
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Noble timber
  • Slate
  • Tile
  • Copper

The only suitable methods for walls/frames:

  • Timber frame with joinery
  • Mass wall in brick or stone, timber frame roof
  • Other folk methods with established record of lasting 500 plus years

The only suitable methods for roofs:

  • Slate or Tile, with seamed flashing
  • Standing seam with fully seamed joinery

The only suitable intent: 

  • extreme life cycle
  • place making

This formula, if followed; will build generational wealth for the property holder, and lasting value for the places created by building as such.  Extreme life cycle, and natural materials combined with traditional building patterns, are inherently green.

With all our power equipment it is more accessible than it was in the past. Less labor than anyone building pre-oil ever had to endure. 

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  1. JC72 | | #1

    Only true "Green" building can be found by here (omitting the "pre-oil" materials of course):

  2. walta100 | | #2

    My life is so much better no we have someone to tell me what I am supposed to think and do.


  3. Trevor_Lambert | | #3

    Great, the cult leader builder is back.

    You've given this exact diatribe before, you don't need to do it again.

  4. tommay | | #4

    Yup, a lot better than all these toxic materials they want us to use today.

  5. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #5

    Is it troll-feeding day?

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #21

      I don't think Kurtis is a troll. I think he believes what he says. Unfortunately neither his posts nor the ensuing discussion leads to anything useful.

      I know it's difficult to moderate these types of boards - you don't know where things are leading - but it seems increasingly frequent on GBA for posters whose contributions have turned out to be problematic to re-appear after a while and go through the same disruptive behaviour again. Would it be possible to find a way to stop that happening?

      1. hopefularchitecture | | #22

        I am challenging this community, and the use of language specifically “green” as inauthentic, or rather incomplete.

        I can see how some might view this as counter productive, but thought can’t go where the roads of language don’t lead. I would appreciate a real debate too...

      2. hopefularchitecture | | #23

        To Be fair: the only truly “green” cultures in existence are indigenous, and separatist ludites like the Amish. I live in an urban setting, I use technology but I try to offset that through direct action: giving up personal internal combustion transport, only buying second hand clothes, and in general never buying shit, because it’s all garbage made on the backs of other people.

  6. hopefularchitecture | | #6

    It’s so Cute, y’all are deflecting!

    You still can’t consume your way to sustainability.

    1. brendanalbano | | #7

      Why not?

      Consume less then we produce: sustainable*

      Consume more than we produce: unsustainable

      Doesn't really matter whether the resource in question is electricity, wood, stone or steel, the same logic applies.

      *Assuming you're accounting for pollution, externalized costs, etc. etc.

      And the Shakers' celibacy meant their way of life was fundamentally unsustainable, so I don't know if they are a great model ;)

      Your focus on building materials seems to ignore the costs to produce those materials. What about the oil being burned to quarry and ship the stone? Where does that factor in?

      1. Expert Member
        Dana Dorsett | | #8

        Still rising to the chum, eh Brendan?

        1. brendanalbano | | #9

          I got sucked in! I'm sure I'll regret it, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. hopefularchitecture | | #10

        Brendan... that’s kinda my point.

        All materials have an emobied energy factor.

        What everyone here is ignoring is the life cycle.

        Traditional pre-oil methods and materials inheritly have a greater life cycle, and in the case it all needs to be re-worked they come apart as individual units.

        I have dismantled a 200 year old chimney, saved all the brick, and even the sand, washed the sand onsite, mixed new binder and viola! New chim with another 200 years. I also commit to living onsite so there’s no commuting energy wasted back n forth with a stupid truck every day.

        That same chim, if it had been built w Portland cement and modern methods: it’s all a monolith and the only endgame is crushing it to make aggregate.

        Plaster too: 2/3 of your material (and weight) stays onsite, only needs washing of the sand and new lime putty mixed...

        The ancestors had to be green inheritley: things didn’t come so easy.

        Precedents for life cycle of traditional load bearing 3 wythe or timber frame w joinery are in the 500-1000 year range if we survey the surviving examples from the past all over the world.

        Every second they stand with no further intervention, they are giving a return on that initial investment, and as the time ticks away that ratio gets better and better for the merits of traditional building.

        1. tommay | | #12

          Once again, Yup, reduce, reuse, recycle......let's see the arguments for that.

        2. brendanalbano | | #15

          On an individual level, it seems perfectly reasonable that someone could find your way of working to be virtuous and honorable.

          But when tackling issues like global warming, I think it's important to consider what it would mean for a solution to be implemented at a large scale.

          For every home in the U.S. to be built by craftspeople living on site using "pre-oil, pre-product" materials, it would require a dramatic restructuring of our society and economy.

          How would this be accomplished? Would post-oil, post-product materials be outlawed? Taxed?

          Where would these skilled craftspeople come from?

          Would we have to abolish capitalism, since these 500 year buildings have value that spans many generations? Maybe not the worst idea, but it's certainly been tried before and the results have been complicated!

          1. hopefularchitecture | | #17

            The same arguments could be made for organic / vs. factory farming. and they were!

            The same arguments were made about renewables and electric cars, and they too, are being proven wrong because someone (elon) had the balls to challenge detroit.

            I'm a proud marxist.

            Yes abolish capitalism.

            On the note of "skilled craftspeople" we can automate most things to the point of only needing assembly. Joinery in timber is rules based, if you have a model it could be CNC cut a million times and shipped to site for assembly.

            Brick in 3 wythes, is mostly folk technology. it doesn't take a lot of skill if you have your chemistry in the mortar right. and that too, can be automated.

            The same amount of "means of production" that is currently going towards disposable stuff could just as well be used to produce noble designs / intents instead of planned obsolescence

        3. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #16

          It’s just not possible to build this way with today’s population levels. Also, brick and timber isn’t going to last 500-1000 years anyway. Do you want to live in a damp, drafty castle-like structure? There are good reasons why people moved away from the building materials of old.

          Also, ye olde time kingdoms were basically capitalistic. Capitalism is just a fancy version of the barter system that has been around since someone wanted to trade for someone else’s stuff.


          1. hopefularchitecture | | #18

            I've spent all of my time indoors in such structures. I've never noticed a "draft" or damp.

            I'm currently sitting in a 3 wythe, typical main st. building. nice plaster walls. there has been no intervention on this structure for 100 years, all still providing service. It's been repurposed many times over, with minimal energy expended.

      3. tommay | | #13

        "And the Shakers' celibacy meant their way of life was fundamentally unsustainable, so I don't know if they are a great model ;)"
        Well there are many species where only a chosen few are allowed to mate, yet they continue to thrive and better the species through natural selection.....

      4. Deleted | | #14


  7. hopefularchitecture | | #11

    The new shakers will have CRISPR progeny. Just wait.

    1. krom | | #19

      The amount of stupid espoused by this single poster gives me a headache... If you want to be a Marxist, you obviously lack any amount of intelligence, or knowledge of history. Just move to Venezuela or some other failing shithole country, then do us all a favor and turn off your computer, its made of, and consuming excessive amounts of post oil age materials, and energy.

      1. tommay | | #25

        Trevor, if you believe the history you have been taught, then it is you that lack any amount of nice. And third world countries, if you have ever been to one, have wonderful people, and if any country is failing it is ours with the likes of people who feel entitled.

        1. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #26

          Careful there... there is a big difference between visiting a third world country and living in one.

          I have a number of friends who have immigrated here from other countries, mostly various countries in Eastern Europe. My wife has lived in 5 countries and is fluent in three languages. All of them, without exception, would be happy to tell you how things are very much better here than they are in those other places. Does this mean everything here is perfect? No. But in general, there is more opportunity here and less corruption than in most other countries. Surprising as that may be from what we see here, it’s true.

          I agree with you that self entitled people are a problem. Lack of work ethic is another. But that isn’t everyone, and it’s not unique to this country.


          1. tommay | | #27

            Well you can find good, bad and corruption any place in the world. It's all in how you perceive it or what you get yourself involved in. I also have friends from other countries but it is always their kids who dislike the simple nature of their parent's countries being spoiled by the nature of our society. I guess it all comes down to the individual and what they want or expect from life.

  8. lance_p | | #24

    Reading this now, I had to check the original post date. I thought it was an April Fools joke. Nope, two days late.

    Martin, you missed an opportunity! :-)

  9. gusfhb | | #28

    I love when people are content to live and work within the 'petroleum economy' and then criticize people who work their darndest to minimize the amount of petroleum actually used.

    Vegans in leather shoes

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