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Maryborough Mud Brick Hut

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Located in the bush just off Stoneham Drive, Maryborough VIC 3465. See map for exact location.

Features

  • Mud brick hut in excellent condition
  • Bushland
On the outskirts of Maryborough, within the Maryborough Regional Park, lies a fascinating mud brick hut in excellent condition. The hut was built in 1982 by Nepalese architect Ramesh Manandhar, in collaboration with Melbourne architecture students and local sustainability enthusiasts, to demonstrate how mud bricks could be used in low rainfall areas to build low cost homes.

This small hut has two rooms, a dirt floor, three small windows and one doorway. The building features an impressive vault and dome roof with no timber supports used in its construction.

The brickwork inside the hut is very interesting, particularly the domed roof in the second room.

This hut lies alongside Maryborough's Centenary Reservoir, just off Stoneham Drive, on land managed by Central Highlands Water. CHW has advised that no camping is permitted and visitors must be respectful of the site and take their rubbish home with them. The site is maintained by the Goldfields Sustainability Group.

Barry Parson of the Goldfields Sustainability Group has kindly provided the following information, which was printed in the Permaculture Journal, 1982:

NO TREES IN MY ROOF

For centuries men have been able to meet their housing needs in ways that harmonised with their surroundings. In areas of minimum rainfall homes have traditionally been built of earth, mud brick walls supporting mud brick vaulted and domed roofs. While in forested areas timber has been the traditional construction material.

Recently however, rapid global changes have destroyed the balance between man and nature and the continual demand for timber housing, particularly in roofs, is one factor in the rapid depletion of the world's forests.

Evidence of the use of mud bricks for roofing in Iraq goes back as far as 7,500 BC. Such structures, common in the Middle East today, are structurally sound, require no timber, remain beautifully comfortable in extremes of temperature and cost almost nothing.

If these buildings could be treated to withstand rain they may prove appropriate in less arid areas. Building mud brick domes and vaults takes time. But where there is time and no money why not?

Ramesh Mananda is a Nepalese architect who is passionately concerned by the serious land degradation occurring in Nepal as a result of forest depletion. Ramesh ran a week long workshop in Maryborough on non wood roofing where the pictured domed and vaulted structure was built according to the following methods...


The following text is displayed in a document created by The Owner Builder, the Australasian Home Builders Magazine:

In 1982, Nepalese architect Ramesh Manandhar ran a week-long workshop with Melbourne architecture students and local sustainability enthusiasts in Central Victoria to demonstrate how mud bricks could be used in low rainfall areas to build low cost homes. This project was featured in The Owner Builder issue 5 under the title 'Not A Rafter In Sight.'

The building featured a vault and dome, constructed without timber supports, demonstrating techniques which date back over 7000 years. Using material extracted on site, and with the assistance of Maryborough Council, 50 inexperienced volunteers helped to make and lay the mud bricks over a period of several days.

Plastered with a mixture of fat, salt and lime this building was intended to be part of the Maryborough Energy Research Foundation (MERF) development, which was hindered at the time by a lack of promised funding. 

The renovation

In 1978 Maryborough's innovative council had asked permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison to design them a system for their settling ponds and the proposed Maryborough Energy Research Foundation was to be part of this development. 

Due to a lack of promised funding the Energy Research Foundation was forgotten about until the charming mud building was rediscovered by the newly-formed Goldfields Sustainability Group in 2011. 

In November the group organised a work party and the building benefited from a two-day makeover. Led by James Henderson of Henderson Clayworks, and under the guidance of Maryborough's Terry White - who had been involved in the original construction work - the volunteers began restoration of the external plasterwork. 

This work was completed in January, leaving the building with a fresh coat of plaster.

 
Renovation of the hut by the Goldfields Sustainability Group, 2011 
(image source: http://www.livingarchitecturecentre.com/wp-content/uploads/general/OB170.pdf)

There is much more detailed information, including photographs of its construction and later renovation, published in the aforementioned document by The Owner Builder.

Ramesh Manandhar and Allan Roger also prepared an illustrated book in 1987 titled Roofing with mud bricks : mud brick dome and vault construction : The Maryborough experience. This book is available in the National Library of Australia.

SIMILAR PLACES NEARBY
  • Bell's Cottage - This beautiful stone cottage lies on the outskirts of Tarnagulla. Built in 1937 by WW1 veteran Herbert Bell before he served in WW2, the cottage is an impressive testament to Bell's determination and hard work.
  • Morton's Welcome Inn - Built by convict Micheal Morton in 1850, the impressive stone building is still standing and is definitely a must-see.



 

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