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1 Feb 2023

Towards the end of 2022 AC Architects visited the Brickworks in Bellingdon to find out more about the natural earth building blocks being developed there by H.G.Matthews. Dubbed Strocks, they are structural blocks made of waste clay leftover from the brickmaking process, and waste straw from H.G.Matthews own farms. These raw materials are sourced within 1 mile of the brickworks and are mixed using rainwater collected off all the buildings in the brickworks.

Earth is one of the oldest building materials, it is not new to the modern building industry but the revelation of forming earth into blocks means that earth construction is much more manageable and no more labour intensive than constructing a brick wall.

Here are some of the benefits to building in earth according to the developer;

- Earth walls provide your home with thermal mass, which means the walls store heat making your home act as a thermal battery. This results in a more consistent internal temperature through the day and night, reducing the amount of heating required.

- Unfired clay also performs as an effective humidity regulator, as the walls will absorb excess moisture from the air and during times of low humidity it will release the stored moisture back to the air.

- The overall indoor quality is therefore more stable which means the need for Mechanical Ventilation systems are not required and natural ventilation becomes more viable which ultimately could save you money.

- It is healthier for our environment, and healthier for us. There are no toxic substances used in Strocks and none in the process of making it.

- Instead of being fired they are dried using biomass boilers that burn wood from a sustainably managed local woodland.

Brickmaking is an energy intensive industry as it requires large amounts of heat to fire and dry the bricks. We are facing a climate crisis and there is an imperative to seek out low embodied energy alternatives to the building materials that we are familiar with. Strocks provide an ingenious development in masonry construction.

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