UnEarthed Traditional Building Crafts is owned and operated by Alex Gibbons, a William Morris Craft Fellow of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings - making him the first and only Cob Builder to undertake the Fellowship since its founding. (https://www.spab.org.uk)
He is also Training & Education Director of Earth Building UK - a charitable organisation whose aim is to foster the conservation, understanding and development of building with earth in the UK. (www.ebuk.uk.com).
Here's a bit from him...
I started building dens and forts, age 7, with whatever I had around me, just because I liked it! This culminated in building the 'Grand Fort' with my Dad...a simple structure on stilts that we built out of 4 willow trunks and old fence posts. It still remains one of my proudest projects to this day! Not much has changed...I'm still having fun building dens out of what I have around me...they're just bigger and a bit more refined (just like me!).
I grew up working on building sites, and have always taken great pleasure in working with my hands. When I finished school I went to University to study Surveying, where I learned the skills I needed to undertake planning consultancy and project management. I specialised my degree in Eco-Construction and Historic Building Preservation, which become my passions.
After working for Surveyors, Planners, and Historic Building Consultants, I decided to get back to working with my hands. I became very interested in working with natural materials, and enrolled onto the Natural Building Programme at Aprovecho Education Centre in Oregon, USA. After completing the programme, I was asked to stay on as resident Natural Builder.
During my time at Aprovecho I was part of building two 'Tiny Homes' from the ground up, two Wattle and Daub Yurts, dry stone walls, sculptural cob walls and benches, and lead a team in clay plastering their large commercial kitchen. I also had the privelege of leading many workshops in cob building and clay plastering, and gained the experience and knowledge I needed to run my own builds.
I became increasingly interested and inspired by Cob and Clay, not only as modern sustainable materials, but as traditional and vernacular materials as well.
I wanted to learn more about the conservation of historic Cob Buildings, and did so by undertaking the renovation of an 18th Century Cob Farmhouse in Normandy, France. This really taught me a huge amount about the intricacies of sensitive historic building repair, with a particular focus on Cob. It also gave me valuable experience in working off grid with limited access and the logistical challenges that go with that. More details on the project and process can be found here.
On return to the UK, I set up UnEarthed Traditional Building Crafts, with the aim of helping people to realise their dream of living in a natural home, or to preserve the one they have in a traditional and appropriate way.
I am truly passionate about people living in one-off beautiful structures that are specific to themselves and their communities. That's why I've never built the same thing twice, and never will.
We pride ourselves on being small scale Artisans, and this is how the business will remain. That means every job is worked on by myself, and our small and dedicated team, ensuring the highest level of Craftmanship possible.
If you have any questions at all, or would just like a chat about what we do, please pick up the phone and give us a ring anytime. We're always happy to speak to a fellow natural or historic building enthusiast, and would be delighted to help with your project!
We look forward to hearing from you!
All the best,
Alex & the UnEarthed Team