Principle 7: Design from patterns to details
We've always wanted an undercover outdoor space so we can enjoy the outdoors whatever the weather. It's the sun more than the rain that prevents us from having meals outside, especially at this time of the year (mid-summer). The temptation to shade the north (sun) facing deck with sails has been there, but from what I've seen is that once they are set up they are rarely taken down when they should be; which defeats the purpose of passive solar design.
I've found that we use our north deck as a space to make the most of the sun, for drying clothes and for dehydrating food. I'm keen to make a solar cooker for use in this space too, as the deck has great access to the kitchen. In the longer term I think that a deciduous vine would be welcomed over most of the deck, leaving some space open to take advantage of the sun's free energy.
While thoughts of the best way to make use of our primary outdoor space (the deck) has been developing we have been making more and more use of our existing carport. It's east facing, so it's quite cool in the afternoons and is in close proximity to the cellar (where the homebrew is stored). I had a large number of salvaged bricks
left over and have had these in mind for paving the carport. There wasn't enough of the same type to do the whole job so I played around with some concepts on the computer, with the idea of the bricks being pixels. While 'PacMan' and 'Space Invader' designs did progress, I decided on a chess board layout - with the idea that we could use the space to play.
|A computer layout for the paving concept using a chessboard theme|
With uneven, dusty ground (which became muddy pools with heavy rains) the carport was not an inviting space to hang out in. The idea was to lift the ground level to the height of the cellar stairway, leaving just enough room for the van to squeeze in. This would help integrate the cellar with the paved area which links to the back door of the house and nearby shed / workshop and help keep the area free or dust. This space has been used for talks to groups, holding the black market, gatherings of friends, meals area and for furniture construction along with it's original function as a place to park and work on the van.
Two cubic metres of local sand were used in construction, mainly in leveling the ground. A level wooden form was set up to guide the sand level with a long metal pipe used to screed and roll the sand flat. This was done one row at a time using water and an old door handle to compact the sand, with the pole and 10mm wooden spacers to align the bricks. Each brick was cleaned thoroughly with a wire brush and tapped down with a rubber mallet.
|Carport area debris cleaned up and a level form set up on either side, to hold sand in place|
|The sand was watered each row and leveled out with a long metal pole which was used as both a screed and rolling pin. The door handle shown was used to compress the sand before the laying of bricks.|
|One set of bricks was laid out at either end and the pole was used as a guide for laying the remaining bricks. Each brick had any mortar removed using a wire brush to ensure it laid flat.|
Once the bricks were all set in place we spread sand over them to reduce movement while we continued works. Salvaged ceramic pipes and reo off-cuts were used along with just the the right amount of sand / aggregate mix that I found 100m away on the side of the road. I made up cement as a ramp over the pipe, to level around the entrance of the cellar and as a frame for the bricks, to prevent the sand from washing out and to hold the bricks in place. Once the 'frame' dried I compacted the sand further with water and added more where it needed it. The brick have settled into place well without the need to cement them in, meaning that the surface can absorb moisture through the gaps.
The only thing that I've purchased so far was two bags of cement and the packing sand (about A$90 all up) and about two weeks to complete (amongst other things).
I'm looking at getting some local river stone to level the ground between the paving and the cellar / house. I'm looking to oil some of the red bricks to highlight the 'chessboard', and use a large tray to cover the brick and prevent oil dripping from the old van and staining the bricks when (or if) I park it there.
|Sand was spread out over the finished brick paving to reduce movement before we walked over them.|
|Pipe set in sand at front of carport, with reinforcing steel set above in preparation for concrete pour.|
|The sand was moistened before removing the wooden form in preparation for a concrete border|
|A concrete border was added to prevent the sand from washing out and the bricks from moving|
|Completed paving area in the carport, which has now become our outdoor summer entertaining area, with the van relegated to the outdoors|
I have to thank you for your help at Tallarook last month too with our slab, without it there's no way we would have got it done! Very much appreciated, you must let me buy you a beer one weekend soon!
Your journal here has inspired me to get off my ass and document our project - Something I'd meant to do, but until I read yours had put off as something to do later.