LOOKING BACK DOWN THE MUDBRICK ROAD


In the 1970’s with an expanding family and a shrinking wallet, we needed to resolve the issue of having a roof over our heads.
Ideally it would need to be

• affordable – as if we had any choice.
• environmentally sustainable – was just plain common sense

• creatively satisfying –

• and fun

The economic boom in the second half of the 50’s

had everyone dreaming of their own home on a quarter-acre block, and that was the real genesis of contemporary Australian suburbia. But in the half-century since then, the whole concept of Australian family life has changed dramatically. In the process, so has the family home.
Taking stock of our position, we narrowed the choice down to building our own mudbrick house on a bush block north of Melbourne.

Having grown up in Eltham after WW11 we knew all about building with not very much money. In his book, ‘Living in the environment’, Alistair Knox a pioneer of reviving the art of building with mudbrick, describes this period as “being in the midst of a wonderful golden age in Eltham.” Eltham Then And Now There was a lot of laughing and little work as men stretched at their psychological post-war ease, convinced the world owed them a living.The last thing they wanted to do was to return to normal work.
Mudbricks looked a pleasant way of doing nearly nothing for a little money. It was harder than they realised, because they were paid one shilling for every brick they produced, and there was more to it than met the eye. But it solved the problem of shortage of materials for building a home. Some great examples of building with a mixture of naturally available materials and recycling at it’s best can be seen on this montsalvat page. Be sure to check out the gallery page .Montsalvat


“Average pay won’t buy a home”

Quotation from a recent article in the Melbourne Age

THE average Australian family can no longer afford the average home mortgage, according to new figures that paint a devastating picture of
how unaffordable housing has become in capital cities like Melbourne.
As the Reserve Bank considers raising interest rates again next week, figures from the Real Estate Institute of Australia suggest households on average incomes would need to spend $3 in every $8 they earn just to service an average mortgage.”

Low energy homes should start at the point of creation.It doesn’t make sense to use an obscene ammount of energy and materials to construct a living environment, that when finished will run on the smell of an oily rag. A properly constructed home built from low energy materials (such as mudbrick) is a natural starting point to your commitment to a new lifestyle, to live in a more balanced way with the environment.

This site will document much of the history of sustainable building,

it doesn’t set out to give plans from which to choose your ideal home, rather to illustrate the back-ground of people who for usually the simplest of reasons became pioneers of a way of life that offered great challenges, and rewarded them with a daily reminder that they had created something of real value, ” their own special place in the world”.
The unsung heroes of that history are the many thousands of people who simply took a tin box and shovel or axe and went on to build a house, either because they had no other choice or because they wanted to build something unique.
Todays builders have the advantage of choices, something that would have been a luxury to earlier generations. Now we can commence building from the ground up, digging the foundations, making mudbricks and complete construction, or choosing to project manage, have it fully built, even truck in completed homes or combine these choices to suit needs.
Whichever way is best for you, remember that no book or web site can tell you how to design and build your ideal home. Whatever choices you make it will be a challenging time, it will be creative. It will be rewarding, but above all it should be fun, Take comfort in knowing that many others have travelled this road before you, they have all created their own special place-and we can learn a lot from their efforts. The spirit of those latter day pioneers is alive and well today and we need look no further than .Asphyxia’s $20,000 mud brick house in Melbourne to see that it is still possible.
Having a warm home that looks good and works well and that you, your family and friends enjoy must be one of the most worthwhile things in life; and to help, you achieve it is the object of this site.

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