Monday, January 30, 2012


There's a school of thought that says we should seal up buildings like Tutankhamun's tomb in order to make them energy efficient, and I believe that's right to a certain extent. Even in fairly benign climates like the subtropics, leaks in uninsulated timber floors, and around doors and windows will allow the building envelope to vary in comfort levels (mainly too cold in winter).  But I wonder about the logic of sealing up buildings so tightly (ie fixed glazing and air conditioning) that we are like a prisoner to our furnishings and finishes and the chemicals that inhabit them?

In my uni days (late 80's - early 90's) I studied sick building syndrome and made the personal choice then,  to only buy second-hand furnishings (most chemicals off-gas into their surroundings in the first 7 years), to use as natural as possible finishes like paints and sealers, and to create a living space that had a flexible skin that could be opened up to allow fresh air, and the outside world into the house.

Granted, the "outside world" has been a little closer than many would be comfortable with at my place, over recent years, but this too will pass ....

Above: N - NE corner rejigged to bring in more winter am sun, and  NE-SE summer breezes via 3 way  windows and door/shutter systems - only designed in my head at this stage.

Above:  Rufus (baby possum of 2010 in kitchen and scared  and screaching for Mum, until she galloped through and picked him up, Hi Ho Silver-style).

But despite above, everyone, (even my nearly 80 yr old mother) feels at ease here and I wonder exactly why that is (apart from the fact there's no crystal to break). There's not too many 'home comforts' - it's pretty much a livable building site. Mum's just been here for 3 weeks -  her "dry eyes" all but vanished and she got to sleep early (which she never does) from day one.

I'm pretty sure it's the negative ions....