Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Strawbale Wall at the Boom Festival

Welcome everyone, to Boom!
It's an art-based psytrance music festival located in the desert of eastern Portugal. It happens every other year and they are really making an effort to have all of the structures as natural and earth-conscious as we can make it.

I'm here to play with bamboo as much as possible and build a strawbale wall around a movie screen/workshop area that needed some added sound isolation. I didn't know exactly what I was getting in to when I arrived, but it turned out great, and there's a lot of photos here to give you a glimpse at my adventure. I brought along dear friends, Sebastian, Julia and Fezzo to help make it happen. Dozens of other bamboo builders and volunteers from around the world learn to get in the mud and see what we can do with all this clay, sand and straw.

we start with an outline of the wall created by some locally grown bamboo poles

I decide to use the bamboo framework as external pinning and stack the bales into columns between them

extensive staking with hand carved bamboo splits help toe nail each bale to the next. Thanks to Danny Pando for making all those beautiful stakes and doing it fast enough to keep up with the flow.

I make a really fancy tying system to hold the external framework together but only reveal a beautiful simple lash once plastered.

My fearless friends, Sebastian and Ilima, help me get the bales up to 14 courses high! Lots of hammering and balancing involved on this one. We also spend a few days shaving the corners of the bales and shaping the form as much as possible.

Then comes the mud

The first coat over the bales is a basic clay slip

Our head honcho and bamboo guru, Gerard, gets into it!

working all together we cover 300 bales in about 2 days!

Then, we start a finish plaster mix in two huge pits lined with old billboard material

and yes, the most fun and efficient way to mix, is to just dive right in!

besides, getting coated in mud helps protect us from the scorching sun!

diving the edges up to the bamboo provides a nice place for a cold joint and gives each volunteer a sense of accomplishment, one section at a time.

plus the juxtaposition of mud and bamboo is so beautiful!

already a great place for our snack and juice break, i will never forget those white cheese sandwiches!

we keep plastering

even through the night

Julia works on a sculptural bench

it turns out just lovely

check out the site-found crystal that we integrate into it!

on the back side of the wall, we build shelves for the 'marketplace'

i create a nest to hide the joint between the edging branches

meanwhile, I help make this special component that will support the fanning shade sails

and a shade structure starts to go up around the theater area

we spend an entire night spreading out ten dump truck loads of sand throughout the arena

in use!

After the festival, we take down the sails, but get to leave the wall standing. It's going to be used as a drive in movie theather for the local community.

long distance aerial shot from my campsite

hard work pays off!

photo credits: Julia Bonneheim & Erica Ann

the Regi

This little structure was a great synthesis of bamboo and mud

I create a canya wattle with bamboo splits for bracing

Then, pile up some strawbales and large rocks for seating

starting to mud over the canya wattle with a 'heavy clay-straw' mix

my crew are experts by now

two walls bamboo panels and two walls earthen benches

inside is the main DJ and control booth for the two stages in the Drop

a great spot to rest and neat to see it endure some heavy use during the festival