An Interview With Jasmine Dale, Co-Builder of the Hobbit House

Hobbit house exterior
The hobbit house. www.simondale.net

A Brief Interview With Jasmine Dale, Co-Builder of the Hobbit House

I had the opportunity to ask Jasmine Dale some questions. She and her husband Simon built the world-famous Hobbit House in Whales. If you’re interested in natural or alternative building, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you’ve probably come across pictures of the Hobbit House on the interwebs. The aesthetics of the dwelling are absolutely stunning–even just looking at the pictures, it’s as if one is transported to a different time and place. I got to ask Jasmine about some of the details of living there.
 

Morgan: Hello Jasmine, your hobbit house really captured the attention of folks all around the world. It’s whimsical, organic design and beautiful details were some of the most eye-pleasing I’ve come across. How was the experience of living there? 

Jasmine: Living in nature and visitors were a pleasure and a joy. The endless work and poor community dynamics were exhausting. 

[Editor’s note: attempting to form a community can be much more challenging than most folks realize–I think we tend to idealize what the experience will be like but the reality can be an entirely different animal. Maybe I’ll write about this in a future post.]

MorganWas it easy to heat and to keep warm in the winter? Was it cool in the summer?

Jasmine: Yes, the insulation and thermal mass design worked very well–it was warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Hobbit house candlelit interior
The interior in candlelight. www.simondale.net

Morgan: Were you able to keep it dry and avoid any problems with humidity and mold? Did the moisture barrier perform as you would have hoped?

Jasmine: The interior humidity was addressed by the design, the through-flow of air, and breathable walls and roof structure. It harbored no mold: plus we used borax in our cob mix. 

[We do this as well, the alkalinity inhibits mold growth on the organic matter in your plaster – Ed.]

Morgan: After your experience, what are your thoughts on underground living? 

Jasmine: It all feels like a dream. However, earth sheltered buildings feel great, are economical, close to the living earth, and are protected from wind and heavy rains.

hobbit house view from balcony
The view from the balcony. www.simondale.net

Morgan: If you built in such a way again, what would you do differently? Also feel free to share any general thoughts and insights about natural building.

Jasmine: We will not build again for ourselves, however Simon does design homes for other people… I think his main insight is match the input to the functional need, e.g., a quick simple shelter may last for 10 years and be worth that. A complex building, with all ventilation, aesthetic, and thermal calculations, etc., is a big investment and suits those with the resources, time, and desire for longevity. Simon is unlikely to find time to answer this more, I will see what I can do. He is exceptionally busy right now.

Morgan: What are you and Simon up to these days? 

Jasmine: Up to now: Simon has discovered the beauty of walking, kayaking, and paragliding in this beautiful region, now liberated from the building site. He builds and designs ecologically sound structures locally. I wrote all I learnt from training over 1000 people over nine years at our homestead, into a practical workbook for integrating people and place: Permaculture Design Companion www.beingsomewhere.net/pdcbook.htm

Morgan: Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge, Jasmine. I wish you and Simon the best of luck on all of your endeavors. Your work has inspired many and will continue too.

Hobbit house roof structure
A good view of the roof structure. Check out those timbers! www.simondale.net

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