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Far-flung frontier

This week, the focus was on Croydon as home to the world’s tallest modular building but a few years ago Building interviewed a resident of the south London borough who escaped to a remote destination.

Electrician Pete Dyer travelled to Mongolia to project manage the build of a 16-bed, straw bale clinic in the township of Tsenkhermandal for Raleigh International, with 42 young volunteers and five Mongolians. It was certainly a lifestyle change, kipping in sleeping bags on the bare floor of a local kindergarten, and washing in the local river. Dyer listed the cuisine highlights as: “Fermented mare’s milk, which is distilled to become more alcoholic. And we had what you might describe as kebabs in Cornish pasties.”

The work proved challenging. “The worst mistake was the 5.5m-long timbers needed for the rafters; the longest timber produced in Mongolia is only 4m.” He resorted to nailing joining pieces to two lengths of timber, then jumping on them to test their strength. There was also a walk-out staged by the Mongolian members of the team.

However, these experiences didn’t put Dyer off – back home, he was already planning his next expedition, to Chile.

Click here to read the full article from 26 November 1999