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A Permitted 2-Story Cob & Light Clay Straw House w/ Rocket Mass Heater on São Miguel, Azores Islands in Portugal

September 5, 2021 - October 31, 2021


This workshop will be the longest, most diverse and most comprehensive one we have yet offered to our students. We will be completing a 2-story building with a criptomeria (local structural wood) post load-bearing structure, that will be permitted as a “warehouse/workspace” with cob (first floor) and light clay straw (2nd floor) walls with a covered (pocket) balcony, cob wall-embedded stairs, a tamped-cob floor, a rocket mass heater and a reciprocal green roof, our trademark workshop finishing touch.

This is super exciting as it will be the first 2-story structure built in a workshop and that I will personally have built as well.  We have decided to make the second story out of a different natural building material, light clay straw, to give students exposure to another popular technique that is ideal for the Azorean slightly cooler winters with its higher insulation properties, has a faster building time, and is of lighter weight for the second story. We are hosting guest teacher Nicolas Pimentel, who started his natural building career with CruzinCobGlobal in the Azores on this very same island in 2017.  He is now a licensed architect in Chile having fast-tracked a green building career in a variety of techniques including one of his favorites, “paja liviana” or “light clay straw”, suitable for the southern Chilean winters.

While the 50cm-wide foundation of this 37m2 (400 ft2)-footprint structure has already been built by local Azorean masons, we will spend the first week adding vertical stone layers in artistic shapes to the foundation guided by our local masons, to create a mixed volcanic stone and cob wall for he first story.  This will speed up the building process and students will still get to experience local-style rock work.  The following weeks will consist of filling in this rock’n’cob wall with cob and, as always, a myriad of aesthetic and functional elements like bottles, niches, shelves, embedded counters and tables, hooks, as well as basic electricity and plumbing, opening and fixed windows and several doors, including one to the balcony.

Once the first story wall with floor beams (for second floor) and tamped cob floor are completed, students will lay down the second story floor boards before beginning the light clay straw walls of the second story, led by Nicolas Pimentel.  The reciprocal green roof will seal the building and the tops of the walls filled in before sculpting and plastering begin.

In the final week we have the honor to host my son and Rocket Stove aficionado Viva Hansen, who will lead the way in adding a wonderful element to the structure which will help take the edge off the cooler winter temperatures as well as dry the generally humid indoor air inside of buildings here.  We will build a Rocket Mass Heater that will heat up cob couches built onto black volcanic bedrock that are inside of the building.  The northern back wall will also be built onto this protruding bedrock.  I am so excited to realize one of my dreams: to recreate the cozy warmth I felt inside of the Bedrock Cottage at the Cob Cottage Company, in which I lived for 5 days warmed up by the heat stored inside of a giant black rock onto which my cob bed frame was built!

This 8-week workshop is the longest one we will have offered, however we are also giving students who can only or only want to do an integrated portion, the option to do so.  The 8-week students are our priority of course and will receive a reduced rate.  We will offer two Early Bird rates for students taking only one or more portions of the workshop.  These rates are for paying by July 5th and August 5th and the standard rate will apply afterwards. As always, we will offer 4 work trades, two in the kitchen preparing breakfast in the morning and 2 preparing the site in the morning and/or afternoon. These work trades are always off of the full/standard rate and will be prioritized for students taking the full 8-week workshop. See the Payment and Registration Info below. It is recommended people sign up as soon as possible so we can have room for everyone.

See all the rest of the info on our website event page:






Quinta da Vida Beleza
Lagoa, Azores 9560-418 Portugal + Google Map


Whatsapp +1 831 212-7225
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