Grand-ish Designs

Grand-ish Designs

(with Kevin McCloud)

It’s not often on Grand Designs that I get to really see an entirely sustainable, ethical build from start to finish or even anything close. It’s just too awkward to get by without the comforts of modern design approaches and their need for steel, concrete, glass or plastic. But today I am going to the furthermost reaches of the Cornish Coast to Penzance to witness something extraordinary. Professional trust fund managers Ted and Belinda Mewslee from London have relocated here to live out a long held dream, and build a house that is sourced entirely from local building materials which are kind to the environment and aesthetically blend with the surrounding countryside and its storied history. 
Kevin McCloud: “So Ted, Belinda, how did this all begin? What inspired you to move everything to the very edge of England to undertake such a mammoth task?”

Ted: “London is such a concrete jungle that we felt our spirits being stifled. All the negative waves, the electromagnetic storm of modern communications, the people, it really affected our chakras. So we thought we’d return to nature, strip out all the unnecessary components, really get back in touch with the Great Earth Mother so we can vibrate at a higher frequency.’’

Belinda: “So we bought a thousand acres of land from various landlords and had bailiffs evict everyone living there. They were just too commercial and involved in the grubby race of making money so they could live. That’s not life, there’s no spiritualism in that.’’

Kevin McCloud: “Who were these people?’’

Belinda: “Dairy farmers and their families mainly, some vets and the occasional Daily Mail reader.’’

Kevin McCloud: “So what ideas did you have for building this house? How did you plan to truly make this an ethical sustainable build?’’

Ted: “Well, we had many, many ideas. Our first spark of genius was to make the walls hollow, leaving a cavity which you could walk into from a small discreet door at the end of the wall. Then, in conjunction with local homeless charities, we organised a system whereby poor degenerate lost souls found on the street would be collected and bussed to our house at a pre-arranged time and placed on narrow fold out shelves in the cavity of our walls, so as to create our very own heating system for use during the cold winter and autumn months.”

Belinda: “It’s just such a sad situation, where all these people are desperate for a roof over their heads, so this way we thought we could help the local homeless as well as cutting down on our heating bills.’’

Ted: “This way, they don’t go to waste.’’

Belinda: “We also found that their excrement is very useful for preventing heat loss, which we collected over the winter using a grill in the floor and had them smear on the interior of the walls during the summer. Combined with the render for the plaster on the outside walls, it made for an effective insulator.’’

Kevin McCloud: “Ah yes, the infamous render. You had led me to believe in your email that this was yet another ingenious solution to using local, sustainably sourced materials.”

Ted: “Yes. Thanks to our owning of such a vast tract of land, we found a graveyard with some headstones going back as far as the War of The Roses. So many in fact, that when we began to clear away some of the scrub, we realised hundreds of these graves had been abandoned. These old headstones were made of the most wondrously textured and coloured white limestone, with deep veins of grey speckled with lustrous specks of gold. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.’’

Kevin McCloud: “Surely you don’t mean you used such marvellous stone as the render!?’’

Belinda: “Don’t be silly! Of course we wouldn’t do such a thing. We dug up the graves and used the skeletons as the render. Once ground up, they made a perfect mix with the faeces in the cavities and the plaster for the outside walls. As well as saving money, it also eliminated the smell from the faeces once the mixture dried.’’

Kevin McCloud: “Of course. What a lightning bolt of inspirational thinking.’’

Belinda: “There were some objections, but once we arranged for our team of violent and unpredictable lawyers to iron out the bumps, things quietened down. What did they want us to do? Use the skeletal remains from the pet cemetery!? Don’t be so tasteless and crude. People love pets.’’

Ted: “The headstones we used to pave the floors, making them into kitchen tiles, and also the paths in the garden and following the outlines of the house. They are so authentic and genuine, they really give you a sense of having deep roots in the area, let’s you know that all these people have lived, loved and died here. Especially at breakfast. There’s nothing like dropping your jam covered toast and picking it up, only to see the year of passing of some individual from the Plague, or tuberculosis, or just general poverty. It really hits home how fragile life can be.’’

Kevin McCloud: “I have to say, Ted, Belinda, this has been a most eye opening and inspiring experience. You really have found new ways to create a truly recycled and sustainably built house, which is quite literally, made of the lives of the people in this area. Beautiful.’’

Ted: “Thank you Kevin.’’

Belinda: “Thank you very much.’’

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