Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Louis and Maxim from Gaia Gallery, who share my passion for the waterways and run a mobile exhibition space floating freely on London's canals...
The Gaia Gallery project seeks to refit a 43 foot steel barge in such a way that it exists totally off-grid, requiring no mains electrical, water or fuel input and no sewageoutput and will run solely off firewood and solar power generation. Gaia want to use low-impact building technologies to refit their barge, combining predominantly natural or recycled materials with traditional building techniques (cob construction, carpentry) and cutting-edge tech (solar-panels, rocket-stove mass heating and rainwater harvesting).
Gaia aim not only to be the first off-grid exhibition boat in the U.K., but also bringing natural material building and permaculture to the attention of many Londoners for the first time. Whilst the project is still in its early stages, with much work wtill to be done on the barge, Gaia are cracking on, recently installing their bespoke-designed rocket stove, and beginning work on their cob-ballast heated benches. The cob itself is novel - barges of this type normally use concrete to provide weight - or ballast - to steady the boat, but Gaia have sourced London blue clay from Crossrail excavations to provide theirs.
Louis got in touch with us through Superuse Studio's Harvestmap (Oogskart) platform, which we have been testing in its beta-mode. The platform allows users to share knowledge of supplies or re-usable materials and seeks to facilitate an economy of re-use that is both globally connected and useful locally. We hope to put them in touch with our contacts at the London Legacy Development Corporation and see if we van hook them up with some of the material surpluses coming out of the Olympic Park transformation works.
Visit the Gaia Gallery's facebook page here and their main webpage here. If you email Louis and ask nicely, he can probably send you a dossier of information about their project!