Instructor: Coenraad Rogmans of House Alive
Join House Alive for our most popular natural building workshop. Over the course of 10 days, you will build a complete natural cottage from start to finish. This intensive program will give you the confidence and knowledge to build your own earthen building. The structure will be mostly cob but will integrate other natural building techniques as well, such as straw bale, light-straw clay, and more. This will expose you to the full spectrum of options available and will help you learn how to apply them in a variety of situations.
Clay-rich earth has been used for millennia as a building material. It is very abundant, inexpensive and easy to work with. It does not rot, insects don’t like it vey much, and thick clay walls add a lot of thermal mass to house, keeping it cool in the summer and more consistently warm in the winter. In addition, building with earth means we can create housing without the use of toxic chemicals or exploiting limited natural resources.
Earthen materials have been used for millenea to create simple, comfortable shelters, and are still widely used worldwide. It’s estimated that 25% of the world’s population lives in buildings that include hand-made earthen materials.
Earthen building is experiencing a renaissance in North America, as a result of the high cost, poor performance, and environmental destruction of conventionally built structures. Novice builders and seasoned professionals alike are are ﬁnding earthen building techniques irresistibly seductive.
The workshop is ideal for people who:
- Are interested in inexpensive, quality housing (a small cottage can be built for as little as $1000)
- Want a small cabin in the back yard for guests, a teenager, an office, or just a place to relax
- Would like to build a larger natural home but want to practice on a smaller project first (a wise choice!)
- Are looking for a workshop that is extremely comprehensive and in-depth
- Want to participate in a positive and uplifting experience building a beautiful structure with a group of people
Our workshops always stress simplicity, affordability and the joy of building. These are key ingredients for minimizing environmental impact and taking care of ourselves.
You will get hands on experience in all aspects of the building process:
- Site preparation
- Doors and windows
- Electricity and plumbing
- Niches, shelves, built-in furniture
- Earthen plasters
- earthen floors
- Ceilings, insulation and living roofs
When we say “Complete,” we mean it. A big part of the building process is the planning and designing. We’ll make sure you go home with the tools to design your own structure, whether it be a small cottage or a larger house. This includes:
- Site planning
- Choosing the right materials for efficiency, comfort and affordability
- Passive solar design
- Organization of spaces
- Making small spaces feel comfortable and roomy
- Design strategies that encourage a building’s occupants to connect with each other and the world around them
- Model making
Last but not least, you will have an opportunity to experiment with earthen materials as a medium for art in the form of sculpture, plaster and paint. This often turns out to be a highlight for students, because the materials are so easy and inviting to work with.
We will be building most of each day, every day, which means that you will be “learning by doing.” expect to work hard and learn a lot! We limit the class size to 16 people to ensure each student gets plenty of individual attention from the instructors. In addition to the building activities, each day has approximately 2-3 hours of presentation and discussion time to talk about concepts, present slide shows, or share thoughts and ideas.