Since its beginnings, the Centre for Alternative Technology has been experimenting with alternative construction methods, finding ways of limiting the impact buildings have on the surrounding natural environment.
The stone buildings already in place when CAT was established were renovated using local slate. Since then, the majority of buildings have been constructed using locally-sourced materials and timber frames. Turf roofs have been employed; these extend natural habitats for birds and insects and provide insulation by retaining heat in inhabited buildings or eliminating heat for food storage areas. Other buildings have harnessed the sun's energy using solar panels or sky-lights.
As you walk around the site you will also see examples of self-build techniques. Such methods of construction were pioneered by the architect Walter Segal and incorporate CAT's own energy-efficient adaptations. These methods of construction are intended to make it easier for non-professionals to build their own houses. There are also a number of low-impact buildings, such as the Straw Bale Theatre and the rammed-earth ATEIC building that houses the Information Centre and the shop. These are constructed using local timber frames as well as natural biodegradable materials which could be reused or recycled. Large windows and skylights draw heat into the building (this technique is called passive solar heating).
In 2006 we installed two pavilions to accommodate our brand new displays and provide shelter for our visitors during times of inclement weather. The "Wind Pavillion" is a refreshingly light structure made from local timber with a roof of recycled safety glass that keeps the atmosphere inside bright and breezy. The Wind Pavilion combines recycled and reused materials to great effect. The curved structure comprises post-factory whiskey barrels made of oak, and mock-slate roof tiles made of recycled plastic from car interiors.
Our most ambitious project to date is the construction of the WISE building which houses the new Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) and opened on 12th June 2010. WISE showcases the highest standard of green building, energy conservation and renewable energy generation and incorporates rammed-earth construction and the latest solar technologies. It boasts teaching rooms, an exhibition area, a lecture theatre (pictured) and bedrooms for our residential course participants.
The Cliff Railway is currently not working. We are offering a £1 discount on entry ticket prices. Access is via the Garden Steps or the North/South drives. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
QUARRY TRAIL LAUNCH PARTY! 24th October 2016, 10am - 4pm Join us for a full day of fun in the woods with wildlife and history events and live music from the Old Quarry to celebrate the opening of CAT's brand new Quarry Trail. Click here for more info and to download the programme.