- This event has passed.
Complete Cob and Natural Building$1250
August 1 @ 3:00 pm - August 11 @ 3:00 pm Contact
This is the most comprehensive workshop you can find. Decades of teaching on 4 different continents has helped us design this rich learning experience, giving students the tools they need to become confident earthen builders.
Earth is the mother of all building materials. For millennia, and all over the world, people have used earth to build beautiful, simple, efficient and inexpensive homes. It’s plentiful, ecological and non-toxic. Plus, it can’t burn, won’t rot and is much easier and easier to practice than conventional construction.
We will teach you how to use clay-soil to build just about everything. From strong structural walls (cob and Adobe) to beautiful floors, plasters and light-straw-clay walls. Because the materials are fireproof, they are ideally suited to sculpt ovens, fireplaces, cook stoves and whole house heating devices.
The essence of your learning experience will revolve around developing a deep understanding of how to process and combine a few simple materials: clay-soil, sand and straw. How you apply that in your building adventures is then up to you, but you will find the possibilities endless and exciting.
During this workshop we will build a beautiful garden wall and an earthen bread/pizza oven. Within the wall, we will incorporate all the features of a wall that would be part of a earthen house: Windows, doors, electricity, plumbing, arches, niches, and artwork.
(We don’t think it’s a good idea to start a whole building in a shorter workshop (as attractive as that may sound); it will have people do too much of one thing (mixing cob and wall building) and will not able people to learn the other important aspects of natural building in a meaningful way, such as roof variations, natural plasters, earthen floors, design and appropriate technologies.)
What will you learn
After this workshop, you will feel confident that you can
build yourself a cob cottage
remodel, renovate an existing home, using natural materials
build and use an earthen oven
use cob to create garden walls, outdoor fireplaces, patios, benches, etc.
build and use a variety of appropriate technologies
design small cottages
teach a one-day natural building event yourself!
Specifically, you will get hands-on experience and skill development in the following areas:
Foundation systems, rubble trench, stem walls, earthbag construction (as a stem wall)
Identifying the right materials, screening, processing, testing, costs, amount calculations
Mixing cob efficiently, making adobe bricks
Building with cob: strong sculptural walls, arches, windows and doors, niches, artwork and mosaics, electricity and plumbing, roof attachment and roof design
Light-straw-clay: this is an infill techniques perfect for code approved buildings and natural renovations of existing homes. You will learn how to make the right materials and how to install them
Natural plasters, tools, making your own plasters and paints, colors, applications, how to apply it on earthen walls, drywall, wood, concrete
Tamped floors, finish earthen floors in natural buildings, earthen floors in existing homes on plywood, oriented strand board and concrete
Earthen ovens: from start to finish and how to use them (we will be baking pizza in the oven we will build)
Different design strategies, natural design essentials, passive solar, using cob to make models
Appropriate technologies: micro off-grid power systems, composting toilets, solar ovens, solar hot water
During every workshop we make time for specific issues related to individual situations. This usually include a careful look at different climates and regions, living with families or in communities, dealing with the building code, physical and financial challenges, and more.
Our book “House of Earth” will be used as a textbook for the workshop.
The daily schedule
We are aware that students make a big investment in a workshop such as this. We honor your time and do the best we can to share our knowledge and experience. Expect long days with lots of building and learning. In the evenings we will show slide shows and films, featuring our previous projects and that of other people and cultures. Believe it or not, we also still like to make time for a campfire, some singing and laughing. We always strive to make the workshop itself a memorable and fun experience.
8:30 building with cob
2:30 other techniques, lectures and oven building
7:00 free time/slide shows/campfire
About the site
The workshop will take place at the House Alive homestead and community in Southern Oregon, 15 minutes away from the historic town of Jacksonville (check out the Britt music festival to see if there is something you want to see while you are nearby!) Our site is dotted with cob cottages, and also has a code approved hybrid house (straw bale, cob, conventional). It is located in the Siskiyou mountain range and has a mixed pine/oak/fir forest. Our homestead is peaceful and safe. The weather this time of the year is sunny and warm (sometimes hot) and the evenings/nights are cool. Rain is rare, but possible.
You will be provided with a flat, private and shady camping spot. We also have hot showers, composting toilets, and internet.
After full participation, every student will receive a Versaterra certificate. We believe that after taking this workshop, participants are qualified to teach at least a one-day event in their neighborhood. With the certificate, you will receive our “Guide to one-day Versaterra events”, a concise manual on how to get your community involved in building with the earth. The certificate will also allow you to promote your event(s) through the House Alive website and Facebook page. By providing a certificate, we want to empower our student to become facilitators of community revitalization through building with earth!
*Versaterra is a holistic disign, building and living philosophy, celebrating clay-soil as its primary building material. Clay-soil is:
plentiful, inexpensive or free, durable, easy to maintain and modify, and endlessly reusable
non-toxic, breathable, soft, beautiful, and displays superior performance in a wide variety of climates
sculptural by nature, inviting to work with needing only simple tools and methods, and easily combines with other natural and human made materials.
By focussing on these specific qualities of clay-soil, we can make the design, building and living process a conduit for community revitalization and personal transformation, while creating housing with dignity for the people of this world.
We welcome the participation of young ones. In past workshops they have always been a welcome addition to our group and have participated in the learning process at different levels, depending on their age and interest.
Children age 0-3 can come along for free,
ages 4-12 the fee is $450
ages 13-17 the fee is $700