Thursday, 3 December 2015

Gdes3003 Cob Oven Build on UW Student Allotment

Students from the Gdes3003 'Green Design' module and from the digital media masters course all donated some of their time today to help build a traditional earth or 'Cob' oven on the UW student allotment garden.

The build project is part of a new, covered 'student social space' that is being created on the UW student allotment with help from students and staff for client Katy Boom - Director of the UW Sustainability Dept.  Help and guidance on the oven build came from Matthew Lloyd or the 'Cob Oven Man', build expert and owner of the 'Fabulous Cob Oven Company' based in north Herefordshire. Additional build assistance was supplied by Senior Design Lecturer Andy Stevenson - who helped negociate the students' 'live' brief this year with client UW Sustainability Dept.

The same Green Design students are also in the process of creating a supporting .pdf 'eHandbook' for the oven's use and maintenance for their fellow students and allotment users. Additionally, design students are also creating concept work for a wipe-clean, reusable eco pizza box or linked 3D sustainable package design.

This year's project comes on the back of numerous years where previous student cohorts have created similar sustainable packaging prototypes for small & large external clients. These have included: Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (Heinz UK), the Wye Valley Brewery and Edward Bulmer Pots of Paint.

Pictures from the build:

Students Be, Matt & Fran help build the oven's initial sand domed former.

Students Fran and Josh on clay-breaking duty (and still smiling!).

Sausage sarnies for lunch on a portable woodstove.

From left: Hannah, Sian, Katy, Sophie, Matthew, tutor Andy, Ally and James
at work on the early clay layers.

Katy Boom, Head of UW Sustainability helps students Sophie & Ally
with the early clay layers.

Professional cob oven builder Matthew Lloyd and tutor Andy on a
quick coffee break.

Student Kirsty looks on as we light lanterns as we start to lose the
afternoon light.

End of Day 1. From left: Green Design students Kate, Emily, Mitali,
MA student Rich and oven builder Matthew Lloyd bear their clay hands
before the end of day clean-up.

Pictures from the build v2:
Morning of day 2: Work Gloves dry out in the morning sun
before our volunteers arrive.

Oven builder Matthew with his wooden 'persuader' moulds the oven
thus far into it's proper shape.

Our cob mixture of clay, sand and hay..

Tutor Andy doing his outdoor chef bit on his mini wood-fired 'rocket' stove
- spare burgers went to lucky students too!

Group on day 2. From left: student Scott, oven builder Matthew Lloyd
and students Martin, Dawn, Be and Megan.

The build ran on tea & coffees brewed on tutor Andy's woodstove.

The finished product (now covered-up and drying-off).

Students Dawn and Be hard at work making the final batches of cob.

Tea break at the end of the day - oven builder Matthew Lloyd & tutor Andy..
Drying the oven & free pizzas for all student helpers..

The white board in the Green Design students' final session: after the session
free pizza samples were offered to all who kindly helped us build the oven.

Drying-out the oven in readiness for the full firing later in the day.

Matthew took a low res phonepic of the first group of students to arrive
and try some pizza samples.

Matthew busy cooking pizzas in the glow of the oven.

We had a full house eventually with students and visiting staff from the
University coming along to try some of the wood-fired pizzas.

Inside the oven as one of the newly inserted pizzas starts to quickly cook
surrounded by the hot coals.

Director of UW Sustainability Katy Boom tries her hand at cooking
some of the delicious pizzas on offer. Katy kindly supported the
build in numerous ways - including paying for all the
pizza ingredients - big thanks Katy.. :)

Tutor Andy and Matthew on pizza production line duties.

And finally.. The warmth and glow of a fantastic new Cob Oven built
for allotment users and UW students to make use of.. With a
little help from Green Design students.. Job well done!

Editor's ref:


  1. This is looking great chaps! I look forward to seeing it completed

    1. Hi Alison, yes they did great.. It looks amazing now it's finished.. Just trying out now in readiness for a test next week.. More pics of today's (2nd day build) to come here soon..

  2. You all did a fab job! What a great example of departments working together. I love the fact that the oven is beautiful as well as functional - William Morris would have been proud of your designers/builders.

    1. Thanks Alison, I think we're allowing ourselves a little pat on the back at this mo' the day after.. What a lovely pizza-making session - with lots of happy faces from student helpers (and some visiting staff friends too!).. Everyone involved did great and we're in Katy's debt for helping to organise and fund like this.. Let's hope that this fantastic oven (and an accompanying shelter ideally..) provide additional facilities to allotment users long into the future..