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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Eco-friendly chalk building opens
The interior of the Pines Calyx centre
The interior uses natural lighting and heating techniques
An environmentally-friendly building made of chalk extracted from the White Cliffs of Dover has opened its doors.

The Pines Calyx conference and training centre, at St Margaret's Bay in Kent, is said to be one of Europe's "most sustainable and healthy" structures.

It was built for 800,000 with chalk extracted from the site and literally rammed into place to create the walls.

Other sustainable materials were also used, meaning it needs about 15% of a normal building's energy requirements.

Pines Calyx was opened on Tuesday by Sir Crispin Tickell, from the South East Climate Change Partnership, who described it as "an example of what you can do" towards reducing global warming.

It is situated in the Pines Garden in St Margaret's Bay.

21st Century lighting

Alistair Gould, from the St Margaret's Bay Trust, said the building was a working combination of the old and the new.

"What we have is a wonderful 3,000-year-old building technique - rammed earth, or in this case, rammed chalk.

"We also have some latest 21st Century technology, with a lighting system which can be controlled at the touch of a button to change the colour depending on the time of day."

Builder James Bellamy said the chalk was complemented by other eco-friendly materials, like the building's roof of insulated soil and locally sourced fired-clay tiles.

Revenue raised from conferences and events at the Pines Calyx centre will be used for maintaining the existing gardens.


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