1987: Lamellar barn or house construction

The Lost Stories are Bill Mollison's articles published in the print magazine originally named Permaculture, then International Permaculture Journal and finally the Permaculture International Journal that was published between 1978 and 2000.

All stories and other content ©Permaculture Australia unless otherwise noted.

Story by Bill Mollison, 1987. Edition 27.

Feature photo: Bill Mollison with Russ Grayson at an Australasian permaculture convergence at Robyn Francis' Djanbung Gardens at Nimbin, northern NSW, in 1997.

JOE LYNCH AND NETH MASS have studied and revived an interesting construction method of raising barns without any internal structure. Pioneered in the 1900's by a German settler in Iowa, USA, lamellar barn rooves may be of any curve, including half circles.

The basic module from which this structure is built is a 1.50m x 20 x 31mm (60"x8"x1.25") plank, cut at a constant angle to fit the next 3lank at either end. A slight taper 3n the outer ends allow an 200mm < 25mm (8"x1") purlin to fit flat on all joins to take the roof materials.

The two end arches are built up and raised, forming the slope, and the laminae bolted up in basic diamond shapes, creating a curved roof. Careful pre-cutting and modelling helps. Eaves can 3e added by extending the purlins or end laminae can be fitted to curved end-walls.

The structure is immensely strong. Originals had only one 200mm x 19mm bolt at junctions, but now two 200mm x 6mm bolts are used.

The series of photos taken in August 1985 show Joe and Nath in the process of construction. The stages of construction largely self-explain the system but would-be builders should be very careful to do their planning and paperwork first and to constantly use stringlines on purlins to prevent developing a compound curve unless it is intended to tile the roof, when a full half-dome can be constructed.

Hopefully the photos tell all!

 

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