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Seishi House

Development of the coach house building in the grounds of Amida Mandala. 

Location: Amida Mandala Buddhist Temple, Malvern
Members: 15
Latest Activity: May 10

Building Progress and inspiration

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Why Seishi House?

Started by Jnañamati. Last reply by Kaspalita Jul 30, 2016. 2 Replies

Seishi House. Why Seishi? The former coach house is being converted, largely for my use, so I can practise as a therapist whilst I'm in the UK, and also have a more settled place to live. An identity…Continue

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Comment by Jnañamati on August 4, 2016 at 15:41

Update

I am pleased to report that the building inspector responded very positively to how the project is being managed and approved the proposals Gordon has put forward leave to the stone foundations in place (on the east facing wall) and cast small concrete buttresses (I am sure this is not the right word) to strengthen the slightly less intact stone foundations on the west facing wall. He is also vey much in retaining the integrity of the building in terms of employing lime plaster and creating a breathing building that manages moisture in a traditional way. This means we are all in good spirits. There is a good rapport with the inspector who has been explicit in offering his support and being available to contact should further issues arise.

I am involved in other things this week so in terms of labour haven't been able to offer much of my time. Next week is more spacious so I hope to be able to help with moving things on now that we have approval and direction from the building inspector. 

Comment by Satyavani Robyn on August 4, 2016 at 8:33

Fingers crossed for the inspection this morning!

Comment by Jnañamati on August 3, 2016 at 18:41

Today there has been a push on to get various things done in advance of the building inspector visiting tomorrow morning.

In the weeks leading up to today Gordon has been taking great care to maintain the integrity and strength of the building. At the end of last week the surveyor and structural engineer had said that the building needs to be underpinned. This is far from straightforward (an costly, requiring many hours labour) because the brickwork from ground level upwards is in a rather fragile condition (The bricks were laid with lime mortal which tends to be crumbly & breaks down in time) so the underpinning would have to be done a metre at a time working in sequence from one side of the building to the other. As I say its a lot of work. But it is I guess in the nature of a project like this to face such challenges. The coach house is as old as the main building we suspect (200 years old in 2021) as so its no surprise that at each stage a new problem is uncovered that needs time and attention to be resolved. What we discover at the end of the day on Friday, after Gordon has started to dig is that the East facing wall is sat on a foundation of stones. When I go to speak to him he has dug a parallel trench in order that he can see the depth of this foundation. He digs nearly a metre and a half down. This is a good sign since structurally it would be foolhardy to dig out a stone foundation and then in fill with concrete. Concrete contracts when dry so what you would end up with is something that is likely to destabilise the wall rather than strengthen it.

The hope is then that the building inspector will assess that the stone exposed by Gordons dig is more than adequate in terms of supporting this old building and that underpinning will be unnecessary. Clearing the site for the inspection has meant removing plants from the east wall, including digging out thick ivy roots and transplanting a rather nice bamboo to the bottom of the temple garden. The bamboo was rather lost, tucked in a corner and swamped by ivy.

What is hugely enjoyable for me at the moment is to be able to follow the project as it unfolds day by day. Gordon adds to the richness of this process each morning when I check in with him by sharing his knowledge of methods, materials and the history of how they have been employed to create buildings like this. Having helped him with a number of tasks on site I have also been impressed by how he teaches people how to do things, in my case from laying bricks and mixing lime mortar through to how to best lift, carry and throw buckets full of earth onto a pile at the front of the temple. Seishi House is an unfolding narrative, a rich one resting on a fascinating history, not only by its association with the temple building and its function as a coach house but also what it tells us about the materials that were used two centuries ago and the people that handled them. This is transmitted somehow as one repairs, reconstructs and moves around in the spaces this fragile little building creates. 

 

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