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  • Posted May 4th, 2016

    Would you like to help build a 9m roundhouse with a reciprocal, turf roof for the charity ‘Farms for City Children’?

    Would you like to help build a 9m roundhouse with a reciprocal, turf roof for the charity ‘Farms for City Children’?

    Reciprocal roundhouse build: call for volunteers. Gloucestershire, July – August 2016. We’re building a 9m turf roof roundhouse for the charity Farms For City Children and are calling for assistance.

    The 2 week Full Build event will give you a chance to be involved right through the building process. Your participation on this event will assist the charity Farms For City Children in the building of their roundhouse. This is something between work experience, volunteering and crowd funding but not a course – your fee is actually a donation to Farms For City Children, which helps to fund the completion of the outdoor classroom.

    The donation for this event is on a sliding scale according to your income.  Everyone pays a deposit of £80 which covers the costs of Katherine cooking our evening meals for two weeks. The additional donation would be maximum £320 but you choose what amount you can afford to donate. You can pay the deposit via the course bookings page to book your place. There will be the opportunity to stay on for longer if you’d like but we ask a minimum commitment of one week and will give preference to those that can commit to two. For info about this and to book a place visit the website here.


    For those who want a more intensive tutored instruction over a shorter time period we are also running a 4 day intensive course during the build. The 4 day intensive course assembles all the components of a full size Reciprocal Roof Roundhouse frame. We’ll also experiment with reciprocal roofs of different size and pitch, to make sure that you really understand how this intriguing piece of geometry works. For info about the course and bookings see here.

    Adrian Leaman – Tutor. “I’ve been building Reciprocal Roof Roundhouses for over 10 years now and I must have tried pretty much every technique this is. The style I teach now is the distilled wisdom of those years of experimentation and is what I consider to be the best approach.  These are very practical courses, no previous experience is necessary and camping is available.”

    NB: please note that because of the nature of this event you must be physically fit, strong and competent with tools.


    What inspired me to build a reciprocal roof roundhouse.

    I started working on roundwood timber frame buildings over a decade ago in Belize. The reciprocal roof roundhouse is a particularly elegant and mind boggling spectacle of geometry. The Reciprocal Frame, also known as a Mandala roof, has been used since the 12th century in Chinese and Japanese architecture although little or no trace of these ancient methods remain. Leonardo da Vinci designed a self-supporting bridge using this method in the 16th century.

    The timbers in a reciprocal roof roundhouse are left round but they do need the bark removed. You can have the logs mechanically peeled.  However that process strips away the natural form which trees spend decades maturing and which is so relaxing on the eye. It’s a real joy to see the natural world expressed in a building. Archie Milles once mused that, “No writer could ever match the poetry expressed in the form of a single tree. Peeling the logs by hand leaves the natural form of the tree intact.


    Raising the frame is another classic moment for people to come together in a rare moment of ‘team building’, literally. This feels good because for thousands of years collaborative outdoor work was part of community life. The power of the shared journey to overcome a physical challenge is well recognised for its feel-good social bonding effect. I’ve built structures for many different organisations over the years and most of them have been run as team building events. I have helped school children, college students, university students, corporate groups, community groups and families shape their own environments. It’s always a joy and a real one off opportunity for most people that they’ll never forget.  (Adrian Leaman – course tutor)

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


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