In November 2014, we were invited by Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust and Cornwall Learning to demonstrate the process of making cob for a local primary school – Pondhu School, St Austell.

As part of an Ecobee Project, the children of Year 6 had instruction to design, promote and market an Eco-Friendly Home.  A home that would be sustainable in its construction using recyclable/natural materials and energy-saving for everyday living.

Year 6 pupils took part in our cob mixing, cob brick making and clay plastering demonstration. All of the children showed great willingness [to get muddy!] but moreover, they had an appetite to learn about cob...which was very inspirational!!!!  Approx 40 cob bricks were made and these we stored in the classroom.

The class of 10 and 11 year olds were split into 5 groups and each group designed and promoted their own ideas.  An in-school competition took place and was judged by a panel of associated, local companies, including Leslie Cornell Building Restoration Ltd– Cob and Lime Specialists.

A winning entry was decided upon...which was incredibly difficult, as every entry was innovative, well considered and delivered with enthusiasm.  The Pondhu School Clay-Day was an amazing success and enjoyed by everyone...was this to be the end?

The children demonstrated remarkable conviction and a keenness to learn more about sustainable building materials, construction methods and the long-term benefits that encompass this approach to vernacular building the children and Leslie Cornell decided to build a ‘living’ model!

A model that would combine all their ideas and designs...a model the whole class would be associated with.

Using the now dry cob bricks and an earth/clay mortar, construction of the substrate began…leaving openings for windows and a door.
Cornell Cob ECO Home

An insulated door was introduced and 8 ‘solar panels’, 4 triple-glazed window units and natural slate sills were installed.

Cornell Cob ECO Home

The children then applied a 2-coat lime render system to the exterior walls.  A class vote for wall colour took place, with a majority preferring white...and a breathable paint was introduced.

Cornell Cob ECO Home

Grass was laid for a ‘living, green roof and a land-drainage trench, complete with chippings, was applied to the wall-bases.

Cornell Cob ECO Home

And a wind turbine was erected.

Cornell Cob ECO Home

Door colour was established by a class vote…so pink it was to be!

Cornell Cob ECO Home

As a ‘living, scaled model’, the design and materials used were chosen with care and consideration.  This approach enabled us to ‘test’ the model for energy efficiency.  This was achieved by means of Thermal Imaging.  The model was taken outside and a heat-source was introduced to the inside of the model [by means of a hair-dryer] until an internal temperature of 24 degrees had been achieved.  A thermal imaging camera was directed at the cob walls and photos were then taken.  To everyone’s delight, the images proved that there was no heat-loss through the walls and the ambient internal temperature remained the same.

Cornell Cob ECO Home

Competition judges from the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme, awarded the model an Energy Efficiency Award, a certificate and prizes for all the children of Pondhu School Year 6.  An incredible achievement…being the youngest entrants of the competition…in which they were placed higher than many other participants…including colleges and organisations of adult education.  Local media took an interest and, deservedly, their success reached the newspapers.

Ecobee Project Manager, Nicole Solomons, was so impressed with the children’s efforts that the model was displayed at Plymouth University as part of a European Cross-border Cooperation Programme - Energy Efficiency - with French colleagues.

The model is now back at school and is currently being displayed in the foyer.

Leslie Cornell Building Restoration Ltd – Cob and Lime Specialists will be exhibiting the model at this years Royal Cornwall Show 2015………so if you would like to see it, please visit our stand in the Countryside Area and take a look.

Finally, in July 2015, the model will be displayed at the Eden Project as part of the grand opening of the Green Build Hub before returning to Pondhu School, St Austell as a permanent feature.

“A superb achievement by the pupils of Pondhu School - Year 6 - 2014/15 ……..Well Done!!”
Leslie Cornell

Watch us

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Contact us

Leslie Cornell
Unit 13/14 St Austell Bay Business Park
Par Moor Road
St Austell
PL25 3RF

Tel: 01726 337577
Mob: 07851 153 683