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

Contents Front Cover Contents Introduction The Idea The First Building The Conflict The Earth Building Movement Murphys Creek Homestead Post-War Architecture and Natural Building Pseudo Affluence Crises and Correctives ... read more

Introduction 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 ... read more

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. ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

Alternative Lifestyles 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 ... read more

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. ... read more

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 ... read more

Postscript 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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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