In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

My urbanite runneth over



Urbanite, for the uninitiated, is the recycling and reuse culture’s word for broken concrete. As a building stone it is remarkable in that it “naturally” occurs in slabs of even thickness making it very stackable. When stacked with reasonable care you can build structures that look a lot like unmortared cobblestone.

 The only real problem with urbanite walls is that you need chunks of roughly even size to make a decent wall. That means that if you let a construction company dump urbanite in your yard you will end up with both small rubble you can’t use and a lot of huge immovable boulders that you either have to break up pay someone to haul away. Alternately you can patrol construction sites and grab pieces of the size you need. That can be a tedious process.

When a crew repairing sewer lines in the area asked if they could use the dead-end street out my back gate to dump urbanite I quickly agreed. I can grab whatever chunks I need as I need them and they haul away the rest. It looks like they are going to be working in the area for several months so for now I have a never ending supply of urbanite. I’ve built an herb spiral, two raised bed planters and I’m starting to terrace the hillside in my backyard with urbanite retaining walls. 

1 comment:

  1. Cool... your very own supply depot, too!
    I would be tempted to build a small fire ring.
    The raised planters look great.

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