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Earthen Construction Skill Builder$450
September 9, 2014 - September 12, 2014 Contact
Instructor: House Alive
Location: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
This is our second year doing a natural building workshop on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Treat yourself to the experience of mild fall weather, beautiful scenery, water recreation (swimming, pedal boarding, kayaking), all while learning the ancient ways of building with earth.
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.
After taking this workshop students will gain proﬁciency in 4 of the most common earthen building techniques:
Cob and adobe. Learn how to mix materials and build structural walls. Learn how to integrate wiring, plumbing, windows and doors.
Light-straw-clay. This mixture of straw and clay is an “infill” technique, to be used to fill the spaces in load bearing walls found in a stud-frame or timber-frame building. This hybrid techniques provides a good balance between insulation and thermal mass.
Earthen plasters. Learn how to make custom earth plasters and to apply them to a variety of surfaces such as straw bale, cob, straw-clay, drywall, and concrete block. Experiment with artistic touches with “Bas relief” (3-d plasters) and clay based paints.
Earthen ﬂoors. This natural floor technique creates a soft, warm, durable and beautiful finish. Earthen floors can be easily installed over tamped earth, concrete slabs, or plywood/OSB subfloors.
Students will learn how to ﬁnd the right materials and how to prepare them for each speciﬁc building method. We will use simple, inexpensive tools, healthy building practices and easy to learn processes. All 4 techniques can be applied in new construction, but also make it possible to do beautiful natural renovations of older homes on a shoestring budget. We have found that after participating in our workshops, people feel conﬁdent and eager to start on their projects right away.
Bring your questions and building ideas to the workshop! Workshop size is limited to 12 people, to ensure plenty of time to answer individual questions and develop skills. Most of the building work we do is intended for future use, and is not just “practice.”
This workshop takes place at Camp Galilee, an Episcopal retreat center on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. Participants will stay in comfortable, heated cabins (dormitory style) and will enjoy delicious home cooked meals. Ample time will be made available in the afternoons to enjoy the
beauty of the lake and surrounding areas. The weather this time of the year is usually dry and warm, while the water of the lake is at its warmest. Nights can be a bit chilly due to the high elevation.