At Natural Building Specialists we work regularly with schools and community groups. We can build and install a variety of projects from playground benches to outdoor classrooms, natural play equipment to school shelters, and decking to covered walkways. We will work closely with you to develop concepts that fit your space and design requirements perfectly.
We also work directly with pupils and volunteers, leading groups to build outdoor classrooms, shelters, composting toilets, a cob garden wall or bench, a kids hang-out made from household recycling, or anything else you can think of. We will provide expert guidance, skilled labour, and sensitive leadership to guide your volunteers to create your home-grown space. Working with and involving the local communities promotes feelings of inclusiveness, teamwork and ownership. The hands-on work promotes empowerment, fitness and a sense of achievement. Your volunteers will learn about the fundamentals of building materials and construction methods, with an emphasis on sustainability.
Peter Lees has a background in the health sector, and has extensive experience working with children and adults with mental health and behavioural problems, learning disabilities, and many complex physical needs.
We have had clients with learning disabilities working regularly alongside us at our workshop. They have been involved at all stages of construction, and we have supported them to gain experience in a work environment.
Depending on the stage of construction and the materials being used, volunteers can be of all ages and capabilities. For schools, sessions can satisfy curriculum requirements, and longer-term academic projects can be based around the building projects. Academic projects could look at geometry, stresses and strains, levers, and directions of forces. Or you could research the origins and uses of different materials (wood, plastic, metal, glass, stone, clay, straw, lime etc), and their lifecycles. Children can learn about embodied energy, ‘waste’ by-products (such as straw), recycling methods, and the scale of landfill problems. Whatever your ideas, we can help you to build your own space that you and your volunteers will feel a part of, and feel proud of.
We also teach courses in traditional green oak framing, roundwood framing, and straw bale building. Courses can be a single day, through to several weeks depending on the project. Running a project as a course is often a way of reducing build costs, or even recouping some costs if a charge is made for course participation. We often run courses for volunteer organisations such as the Wildllife Trust, whose volunteers attend the course as a 'thank you' for all their hard work. This situation works for all concerned - the volunteers get to learn valuable skills for free, and to work on a project that will be theirs to use, and the Wildlife Trust get a project built at a fraction of the commercial rate.