Ty Blewog

Professional Diploma in Architecture Students 2017 Self-Build Project (Centre for Alternative Technology), Machynlleth, 2017


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Thatch and cedar shakes 

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  • Thatch and cedar shakes    
  • Approach along the Quarry Trail at the Center for Alternative Technology    
  • Nestled within the woodland    
  • Immersed within the forest surrounding Llwyngwern quarry.    
  • Thatch threshold    
  • A simple, light interior space.    
  • Framing the view    
  • Framing the seasons    
  • Immersed in the forest    
  • Sliding entrance door, using charred larch and douglas fir    
  • Designed and built by students at the Center for Alternative Technology    
  • Affectionately known as the     
  • Window detail using locally sourced larch, charred for protection    
  • Trimming the straw    
  • Nestled in the woodland    
  • Section A    
  • Section B    
  • P1 Floor Plan    
  • P2 Roof Plan    
  • E1 North Elevation    
  • E2 East Elevation    
  • E3 South Elevation    
  • E4 West Elevation    
  • Site Plan    
  • Constructing the timber frame    
  • Primary timber frame, made from the salvaged brake rails from the old quarry railway     
  • Studwork and french cleat hanging system to take the prefabricated thatch panels    
  • Timber frame going up on site    
  • Thatching     
  • Learning the techniques of long straw thatching    
  • Collaborative learning, passing on the skills of thatching     
  • Fixing on thatch yelms onto the prefabricated panels    
  • Raising the first roof panel    
  • Fitting the roof panel    
  • All the panels hung, creating the internal space    
  • Finishing details going in    
  • Initial concept model    
  • Initial concept model    
  • Prefabricated thatch panel system    

A space for contemplation along the woodland trail at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Ty Blewog is a space for contemplation, situated in the forest surrounding the picturesque Llwyngwern Quarry, a place for walkers to stumble upon whilst wandering the woodland trail at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Affectionately known as the Hairy Hut, this ‘object in the wild’ is akin to a friendly, rugged creature you might find in folklore, but cross the threshold and you’ll find a calm, contemporary interior that frames the raw and ever changing elements of nature, whisking your mind away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Designed and constructed entirely by architecture students and volunteers at the Centre for Alternative Technology, the project gave unique opportunities to learn practical skills and experiment with new ideas. The thatched facade explores ways to revitalise traditional crafts in the context of the contemporary building industry. Prefabricated panels were constructed and thatched under the shelter of a barn, out of the wet welsh weather, before being carried to site in a communal ‘barn raising’ effort. A handful of students led the project, having consulted a Master Thatcher, before passing on their skills to over 50 students and volunteers who contributed to the build.

Ty Blewog set out to be an ecologically sensitive building. Traditional long straw, a bi-product of bread-making, was sourced within the UK. Locally sourced timber was then either left untreated, or charred. Slate waste collected from the quarry was used to stabilise the bank. The old timber brake rails from the quarry railway were reclaimed for use in the primary frame. A double glazing unit was salvaged from a skip and carefully re-framed. Even the rope handrail was salvaged from a ship.

The flexibility of the space has already unearthed a breadth of opportunities; whether it’s a shelter for passing walkers, a discrete bird hide, a storytelling workshop, a calm yoga space, a cosy camping pod, a creative studio or even just … a space for contemplation.


  • Begun: Jun 2016
  • Completed: Nov 2017
  • Floor area: 5m2
  • Sector: Sports and leisure
  • Total cost: £3,200
  • Address: Quarry Trail, Centre for Alternative Technology, Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth, SY20 9AZ, United Kingdom