Living in the Environment

Author: Alistair Knox First published by Mullaya Publications, 1975
Reprinted January 1976
Published by Compendium Pty Ltd 1978

Copyright Alistair Knox 1975
ISBN 0 908136 48 X
Reprinted by Second Row Press Pty Ltd 1985
ISBN 090932564

Front Cover

Introduction The Mount Pleasant Road Story The environmental lifestyle Our Recent Yesterday A personal recollection An Innovator Ahead of His Time The beginning of an idea The Audacious Improvisors The individual approach

The history and progress of environmental building in Australia is really the history of modem mud brick building. It is not confined to earth walls, but earth-wall construction stimulates a point of view and a relationship with nature

The Idea
'... little bouncing hills half obscured by mists.' The modem earth building movement could be said to have actually started in Eitham, Victoria, at the Artists' Colony under the direction of Justus Jorgensen in the early 1930s.

The First Building
I recently received a call from a client asking me to design an extension on to their house. It was the first building I designed and built in 1946 a year before I started building in earth. The property was located in Heidelberg near the

The Conflict
Men who went back to their old sedentary jobs after the war soon saw their pre-war privileges had gone. The emphasis was now on the new business man, the sub-contractor, and not on the staff who recorded profits and losses for commercial

The Earth Building Movement
One of Justus Jorgensen's many contributions to the Eltham society in particular, and to Melbourne in general, was his ability to produce inspired craftsmen and women. He was able to open his pupils' minds to new possibilities and

Murphys Creek Homestead
Above top: The Murphys Creek homestead, 1949. Above bottom: The implement wing and back verandah Those five environmental years that produced the modern Eltham climate for living had repercussions in other places. I sometimes

Post-War Architecture and Natural Building
Australia's environmental building school started in Melbourne in the 1940s because the Eltham train got me back in time to discuss earth building with the shire councillors. It could not have happened elsewhere. The building

Pseudo Affluence
Building returned to a state where there was a balance between supply and demand in everything except the unpredictability of mud brick construction due to the type of employee it tended to attract. In addition, a growing awareness that

Crises and Correctives
There was a business recession in Australia in 1961 that was largely due to the government's financial controls, and a stop-go philosophy, a time of correction through unemployment. The country submitted to this inequitable system

Landscape and Landscape Building
A series of interesting buildings followed the construction of our house. Some of them were large and built in mud brick. The Barden house was a good example of this renewed development in earth. It was a three acre site sloping to the

Country Houses
John Serle, an artist who had planned to spend his life painting in and around the rain forests of Queensland, returned to Melbourne after a year or two because of the call of the pale yellow clay in Eltham with its mysterious landscape

The Australian Identity
The histories of European countries have in modern times been largely formed through their royal lines or the great heroes that they have produced. It was .man against man, country against country, ideology against ideology. In Australia

Timber Buildings
Timber building in Australia has generally been looked on as the poor man's alternative to other forms of construction. The old clap board houses of the 19th century were often embellished at the corners with double thicknessed timbers to

Corrugated Iron
The alternative society is a new group of pioneers because they are identified with the total landscape in a total living way. It is the co-operative in contrast to the fierce competitive lifestyle that exploits the natural creation for

Alternative Lifestyles
When my son Hamish and his friend John decided to make some adzed pioneer tables, they found that if they worked industriously the demand could provide them with an interesting lifestyle, a good income, and flexibility of daily living.

Fathers and Sons
It has become a generalisation in the Eltham district that environmental fathers produce environmental sons. The problem is that the sons sometimes lack the consistency that their fathers had because they did not come from a period where

During the year of 1975 the mudbrick building has finally become one of the common building materials of the Eltham district. Private individuals and speculative builders are erecting them in various parts of the Shire, and it an everyday

Appendix 1, Planning for mud brick
The walls of more than half the domestic buildings in the entire world are reputed to be built out of one or another form of unbaked earth. The majority of course are in Asia, Africa and South America, but there are a great number of earth

Appendix 2, Soil types for mud bricks
We have used granitic top soils for making mud bricks at Murphys Creek, Victoria, and it proved very satisfactory. Generally most of the bricks have been made from heavy clay soils and while it was sticky and hard to use it made good bricks

Back Cover

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