My Brother the Eco Design Warrior

For those of you with an interest in environmentally sensitive architecture and building methods, combined with a love of nature and wildlife, you will be green with envy when you hear about the work my brother Graeme Labe does

Eco building, serengeti, sustainability, vernacular architecture

Graeme works in the most remote unspoilt locations in the world, designing and developing eco-friendly safari and guest lodges.

He has to deal with the most enormous logistical problems that are almost unimaginable from my computer desk in Dublin. – including having to consider how to keep the swimming pools that he designs inaccessible to elephants

Roll form steel, canvas constuction, tented, eco building,Because of this, Graeme has to be highly creative with his construction methods. He builds with very innovative materials including sandbags, roll form steel and canvas to name a few.                                   Most of the developments he works on are totally off – grid so the primary power needs to be self-sufficient, economical and environmentally friendly,

Because so many of the locations are so remote he has to design solutions for the treatment of sewerage and solid waste as well as domestic water in areas where no infrastructure exists

He has worked on many projects all over Africa and travels to exciting places over the world to consult and provide feasibility studies, and yes, I am thrilled to say he is sending me lots of advice for the 5k extension.

Over the next few weeks I will be bringing you examples of some of his projects that are really fascinating. On this post we will show you a project he worked on 10 years ago  in the Okavango Delta – a lovely example of vernacular architecture rethought –

Building with recycled aluminium drink cans

mud and tin can wallIn this development, Baines Camp, the wall panels of the lodges were made from 140,000 aluminium cans collected by school children in Maun in Botswana, as a local community project. This project raised money for local schools and helped clear the streets of Maun.

It also drew on the local knowledge of mud-and-wattle construction – turning it into ‘mud and can’ construction.

In order to lighten its carbon footprint, Baines’ camp  is a semi-permanent structure. There are no permanent foundations and all the decks are raised to allow for flooding. Please take some time to look through the development of this project, just tap on the following image…

Makes me wonder if we could collect 140 000 empty Guinness cans to build our 5000€ extension in my back yard in Dublin? I know a few lads on my street will do their bit on a weekend binge to assist.

FTK Logo, Eco Design,Graeme worked on this project before he set up his own business called Full TurnKey Development and Design. His website is currently under construction, but you can access his details by clicking here

My favourite picture of Graeme, taken years ago, fishing with elephants

One of my favourite pictures of Graeme, taken many years ago, fishing with elephants in the Okavango Delta

An interesting article in Architectural Digest from 2001 featuring Graeme and a similar project he worked on in the Okavango Delta


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