Constructing superlatives

Constructing superlatives
The Terra Berma Project
By Sarah Sawler • Photo credit: Jennifer Hannigan

What has 1,500 tires, solar panels, and a water-purifying indoor garden? That’s what Jay and Jenn Hannigan have planned for the Terra Berma Project, an off-the-grid residential build that’s being constructed on the Kingston Peninsula, near Saint John. Inspired by a documentary on sustainable housing, the New Brunswick couple has embarked on an adventure that’s become an epic scavenger hunt for reclaimed materials, an insurer, and experienced experts. With its upcycled materials, sustainable energy sources, and self-sufficient plumbing systems, Atlantic Canada has never seen a house quite like this. The Hannigans hope to move into their unique 2,000-squarefoot home in the Spring of 2014.

The head of New Brunswick's tire recycling program gave the Hannigans permission to collect tires for their build. The couple picked up about 1,500 tires by travelling from dealership to dealership and transporting them back to the build site. These tires, which normally would have been wasted, will be given new life in the walls of their home.

The head of New Brunswick’s tire recycling program gave the Hannigans permission to collect tires for their build. The couple picked up about 1,500 tires by travelling from dealership to dealership and transporting them back to the build site. These tires, which normally would have been wasted, will be given new life in the walls of their home.

LEFT: According to Jenn, they’re going to need plenty of wood for the inside of the structure. They’ve found what they need by sourcing reclaimed lumber, including beams from an old Saint John building. They also had help from Thane Jones, a local timber frame builder, who was able to source larger beams that had been leftover from previous projects. RIGHT: The home will be efficiently heated with a clean-burning masonry heater. A Saint John mason named Brian Frost will build the unit. The Hannigans were able to find the exact hue they wanted for their heater by sourcing masonry stone that was taken from the site of a demolished Moncton church. Frost will be using hardware and supports provided by Maine Wood Heat.

LEFT: According to Jenn, they’re going to need plenty of wood for the inside of the structure. They’ve found what they need by sourcing reclaimed lumber, including beams from an old Saint John building. They also had help from Thane Jones, a local timber frame builder, who was able to source larger beams that had been leftover from previous projects.
RIGHT: The home will be efficiently heated with a clean-burning masonry heater. A Saint John mason named Brian Frost will build the unit. The Hannigans were able to find the exact hue they wanted for their heater by sourcing masonry stone that was taken from the site of a demolished Moncton church. Frost will be using hardware and supports provided by Maine Wood Heat.

LEFT: Last summer, the Hannigans offered a number of workshops, giving volunteers the opportunity to help out with the build while also learning more about various environmentally-friendly building styles. Picaroons Traditional Ales sponsored the post-workday beverages and, based on this photo, they also contributed by helping to fill the gaps between the tires. RIGHT: Everything about this project is efficient—from the temporary solar power source needed for the build (see above) to the compost toilets. Even their water won’t go to waste— all their “gray water” (waste water from laundry, baths, and doing the dishes), will be naturally filtered by the plants in an indoor gray water garden designed by environmental engineer Eric Bell.

LEFT: Last summer, the Hannigans offered a number of workshops, giving volunteers the opportunity to help out with the build while also learning more about various environmentally-friendly building styles. Picaroons Traditional Ales sponsored the post-workday beverages and, based on this photo, they also contributed by helping to fill the gaps between the tires.
RIGHT: Everything about this project is efficient—from the temporary solar power source needed for the build (see above) to the compost toilets. Even their water won’t go to waste— all their “gray water” (waste water from laundry, baths, and doing the dishes), will be naturally filtered by the plants in an indoor gray water garden designed by environmental engineer Eric Bell.

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