Earth Building UK and Ireland – EBUKI
Presentation of the institution
EBUKI was established in 2009 to bring together all the earth building interests, commercial, design, academic, training and research. We recognized that there was interest in earth as a material to design, repair and build with, as a tool for de-carbonising construction, as a way to shift relationships within both the creators and the users of the built environment. We knew that earth buildings feel good, but we didn’t know exactly why. We knew there was satisfaction to be found in the manipulation of these materials and techniques but didn’t have a system or institution to train new users.
Over the years we have joined forces with universities and colleges, private institutions and companies to further the use and understanding of earth building and finishes. We have joined with partner organisations across Europe to develop first the ECVET Earth Building units of learning outcomes and more recently the JUMP! Training for Trainers modules.
We are active partners in the CobBauge research project with universities in France and the UK and we send learners to partners in Europe under the Erasmus+ scheme.
We ran conferences each year until 2015 when we expanded to make Clayfest our annual week long workshop, conference and tour, each year in a different location to make the tour accessible and diverse, so it may be in Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland or even on the internet if there is a global pandemic.
Little by little the focus on the materials, their uses and possibilities have opened new levels of understanding and new relationships within our organization and further afield; designers, trainers, builders and producers have taken confidence from our continued support and output to push ever further into unchartered territory of making, designing and creating.
Apart from Clayfest which is open to all including architects and engineers, builders and self-builders, trainers and students, heritage professionals and archaeologists, we are also working with universities, colleges, builders, producers and the hard to reach. To get to all these groups the ECVET Earth learning outcomes are key to ensure a consistent approach.
So the development of further levels of units is an ongoing activity, from the original levels 3,4,5 we are looking to levels 1 and 2 and also 7. We are also thinking about new units for CobBauge, Light Earth and Turf, when we have time and money!
JUMP! has been a big change for us, shifting attention from learners to trainers. The realization that universities and colleges have little or no institutional memory or experience with earth in the way they do with plywood or concrete means the learner experience however rich in a workshop with us is always undermined by the lack of skills and knowledge in the permanent teaching group. So we are working hard to offer training for trainer sessions until this vital step is fulfilled.
A new direction for us is in trying to encourage a national organization to start in Zimbabwe where we have some long-standing ties. This has involved running training for trainers sessions at the National University of Science and Technology and at the Harare Polytechnic amongst others. We aim to shift the curriculum there as we are trying to do in the UK. We are linking this to industry trends including the use of unfired bricks in new developments there and the substitution of waste streams for coal where they continue to burn bricks.