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  • Posted November 5th, 2023

    The first weeks of self-build at Church Grove, south London

    The first weeks of self-build at Church Grove, south London

    The self-build RUSS project at 12 Church Grove in Ladywell has been shaped by future residents from the start: co-designing the building, sharing ideas, defining principles, raising funds, building a community, advocating for CLTs, building the community hub… And now a group of future residents have picked up tools and materials to work on their own homes as self builders. In January 2023, building company ROOFF handed over five flats as ‘shells’ to be made into homes by the inhabitants themselves.

    Each of the ‘shells’ consists of a watertight space, with doors and windows installed. Hollow voids and mysterious pipes are symbols of the opportunity, decisions and work to follow. 

    The flats double up as on-site material storage
    Lessons in plumbing with Cath Hassell
    Front door to one of the self-build ‘shells’
    Locations of services being decided by the residents themselves and marked onto walls

    The first few weeks of the build have been focussed on plumbing and stud wall construction, realising the physical strength inherent to the process whilst comprehending the ongoing mental resilience.  

    Skeletal structure of partition walls begin to take form
    William, one of the self-builders, using tin-snips to cut materials for partition wall construction at Church Grove.
    Self-builders Amy and Jess taking measurements for plumbing and pipe routing
    Working together for setting out on site

    On site, a new everyday language is emerging for the self-builders of Church Grove: wafer-head screws, kerdi board and more.

    Careful planning and teamwork in fixing the base for partitions.
    Self-builder Kareem
    Drawings and details

    Learning through doing, the residents are adapting to new skills and experiencing the challenges of balancing work and caring for family with self building their future homes. 

    Morning site smiles from self-builders Lisa and Amalia

    We will be following the progress of the self-builders until the moment they move in at Church Grove.

    Photography and text by Ella Stoneham-Bull: I feel honoured to be able to document the progress of the self build team throughout the creation of their homes. I will be attempting to capture both the physical development and challenges of on-site life at 12 Church Grove over the coming months.

    RUSS have just launched a crowdfunder appeal to complete landscaping and communal works. Find out more:  https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/riversidecommunitygarden

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

    1 Comment

    • 1Marcia McGrail November 22nd, 2023

      Surely there's not just me who is supremely impressed with these ppl...? Guts, courage, fortitude, goodwill, the ability to tolerate each other for more than 2 days are basic skills lost to the wider world.

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