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Natural Building Workshop September 7 – October 11: We are building a PermaHome guesthouse for Christoph & Mario’s permaculture project in southern Italy

September 7, 2020 - October 11, 2020


Natural Building Workshop : September 7th – October 11th

In this Natural Building Workshop we are building a PermaHome guesthouse for Christoph & Mario’s permaculture project in southern Italy. See this link for a full description.

From September 7th to October 11th we will start another 35-Day Natural Building Workshop near Badolato in southern Italy. This workshop will provide you an opportunity to get hands-on experience in Natural Building, all the skills and especially the confidence you need to build a little cabin for yourself. The highlights of this workshop are a natural rock foundation, a wooden frame and roof, light-straw-claystraw bale as well as cob walls, earthen floors, earthen plasters, a rainwater harvesting roof and even cob sculpting, Tadelakt and an integrated greenhouse to make this building something like an earthship. The difference is that in a PermaHome we try to stick with natural materials only.

Certification Natural Building Certificate
Date September 7th – October 11th
Building Style PermaHome
Instruction language English / English & German
Location Badolato, CZ, southern Italy

Project: a PermaHome guesthouse for Christoph & Mario’s permaculture project

In this year’s 35-Day Natural Building Workshop we will build Christoph & Mario an earthship inspired guesthouse for their permaculture project. They would like a big room of about 20 m² that can host 2 people comfortably, 1 shower and a little kitchen area to prepare snacks. Imagine the following plan without the bedrooms:

Workshop: Natural Building

35-Day Natural Building Workshop consists of 25 days of theoretical instruction (in English or English & German) with lectures & graphics as well as hands-on construction for 7 – 8 hours a day.

Hands-on Construction

In this Natural Building Workshop you will build a complete building from foundation through floors and walls to the roof with your own hands. We are trying to use only natural materials, so you know exactly what you are working and surround yourself with.

Our hands-on practice will include:

  • creating a foundation with drainage for heavy rainfall
  • adding plumbing for a sink, shower and toilet
  • insulating and pouring an earthen floor
  • connecting wooden frame and foundation
  • building a green house
  • making cob with partner and solo
  • building cob walls, straw bale walls and light-straw-clay walls
  • preparing and inserting doors and fixed and opening windows
  • preparing and inserting shelves
  • making bottle bricks/windows
  • inserting bottle bricks/windows, niches and other objects
  • inserting electrical wiring and plumbing in walls
  • preparing walls for roof connection
  • cob sculpting
  • preparing and applying earthen plaster (2 coats)
  • preparing and pouring earthen floor (2 layers)
  • building a roof with natural round wood
  • building a water harvesting roof cover
  • making small-scale models of future projects, time permitting
  • and A LOT more …

Please consider that this workshop will sometimes be physically demanding, as we are building a whole house bare-handed and -footed. If you are not able to do physical work please let us know beforehand, so we can arrange accordingly.


Our lectures in the Natural Building Workshop will include information about:

  • deciding on best location for a passively, sun heated building
  • analyzing soils and materials
  • deciding on correct cob mixture for long living earthen structures, earthen floors and earthen plasters
  • natural building design
  • cost analysis and planning
  • where to get materials
  • legal issues about cob, straw bale and light-straw-clay
  • creating a natural building business
  • assisting, interning and teaching with Suski
  • and A LOT more …

In addition to the lectures, slideshows and videos will be shown to support and enhance your understanding of materials, building, design, geography, budgeting, project management, business options and legal issues.


Because this is an area with possibility of light earthquakes, we will talk about earthquake protection and apply what we learned on the building.

In order to be able to manage a building project yourself you will get information on how to calculate the amount of material you need, as well as where to get it from as cheap and environmentally friendly as possible.

Natural Builder Certification

You will receive an Natural Building Certificate, all the teaching materials by email and the permaskills – Natural Builder’s Handbook, which is a summary of the workshop building steps, upon Graduation.

Workshop schedule

This 35-Day Natural Building Workshop begins on Sunday, September 6th, 2020 at 4 pm with the Opening Circle and Introduction to Site & Project, the Welcome Dinner and Introduction to the Workshop. It ends on Saturday, October 10th, 2020 around 2 pm after the Closing Circle & Lunch.

You can arrive a day or two before to acclimate and settle in, but food and our chef’s services will only be provided from Sunday evening.

Overall Schedule

  • Sun Sep 6, 4 pm: Opening Circle / Welcome Dinner / Introduction
  • 1st week: Foundation / Plumbing / 1st Floor
  • 2nd week: Wooden Frame / Roof
  • 3rd week: Walls / Electrical / Windows
  • 4th week: Walls / 1st Plaster
  • 5th week: 2nd Plaster / 2nd Floor /
  • Sat Oct 10, 10 am: Closing Circle


Weekly Schedule

  • Mon – Fri: all-day hands-on class
  • Mon, Wed, Fri: 60 min lecture after Lunch & Rest time
  • Sat: morning hands-on (optional), afternoon off
  • Sun: all-day off

Saturday mornings are optional buffers, should we fall behind in schedule. Saturday afternoons and Sundays are off to explore the region further and stay somewhere over night.

Daily Schedule

  • 6:30-7:30 :Meditation/Yoga (voluntary)
  • 7:30-8:30: Breakfast
  • 8:45-1:00: Class
  • 1:00-2:30: Lunch
  • 2:30-5:30: Class
  • 5:30-7:00: Rest/Yoga
  • 7:00-8:00: Dinner
  • 8:00-9:00: Slides / Videos/Discussion (once a week)

There is often someone who leads yoga or some other movement practice in the morning and/or the afternoon. We like to have one evening a week to show slides, videos or have workshop related debates. The rest of the time you can spend on your own, join a jam session around the fire or contribute something to share with the group.

Workshop Hosts: Mario & Christoph

Chris and Mario have been involved with permaculture, agroecology and natural building for several years and gained experience in different countries and projects worldwide. Their passion is contributing to a healthy and thriving planet.

After having attended several PDC’s, natural building workshops, agroecology workshops and more, their focus lies on soils and how to improve them in particular. They want to boost the microbial life in it and therefore its ability to capture more atmospheric carbon. Their goal is to create and build a demonstration site for sustainability in Calabria. A place where adults and children can learn about regenerative practices, permaculture and soil management.

At first their efforts will be focused on establishing effective water management systems and improving the soil structure and quality. In the following years they will also create edible forests and medicinal herb gardens. Eventually they will convert the existing olive monoculture into various polycultural crop management systems.

Although the primary purpose of the building will be to serve as a guesthouse to accommodate guests and workshop students.

Workshop Location: Badolato

The town of Badolato is divided into two different parts. One part is the medieval center ‘Badolato Borgo’ sitting on a hill at a height of 240 meters. The other part is the more developed ‘Badolato Marina’ at the coast. It is a unique jewel with its own history, culture and tradition. The thousand-year-old Borgo still retains its medieval urban structure. Here you will find romantic, narrow alleys, lined with flower pots, winding around old ruins, beautifully restored houses and 12 historical churches.

The area around Badolato offers beautiful deciduous forests, waterfalls and peaceful beaches. In the North there are hot springs in Lamezia Terme. In the South you can visit Aspromonte National Park, beautiful Reggio di Calabria and Mount Etna, highest active volcano of Europe (no worries, its far enough).

Christoph & Mario’s land is hidden behind a ridge just outside Badolato Borgo in a green oasis filled with olive, orange, khaki and avocado trees, date palms and oaks. The place has, like most of the surrounding area, been used as an olive grove for the last 30 years. Christoph & Mario want to change that and grow a Food Forest here that will provide them, as well as friends and later workshop students with an abundant supply of healthy, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables.


Workshop Requirements

There are no skill requirements for the 35-Day Natural Building Workshop! That said, it certainly won’t hurt if you know some things and put it to good use or share it with others. Nobody is perfect and we are always curious to learn other ways of doing things.

Please bring an open mind and be prepared to do some demanding physical work from Day 1. This includes:

  • Watch or Phone to be on time (bring a charger)
  • Work clothes appropriate for the country and climate we are in
  • Work boots or other closed-toe shoes
  • Flip-flops for cobbing days
  • Rubber dishwashing gloves (thick, for lime mortar)
  • Work Gloves (rubber palm, breathable back)
  • Ear Plugs (roof week)
  • Good Moisturizer
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Safety Glasses
  • Water Bottle
  • Notebook/Pen/Camera
  • Sample of Your Soil (Optional)

optional, if you like bring your own tools:

  • Tape Measure (we will use the metric system)
  • Level (60cm / 2ft)
  • Carpenter Hammer (the one that can remove nails)
  • 10-15cm / 4”-6” diameter round plastic yogurt lids (for plastering)

What else to bring

In short, bring whatever you NEED to be comfortable and happy when camping for over a month. 🙂 There are many local stores in case you forget something or prefer to buy it in Italy! Our recommendations for stuff to bring are:

  • Bathing Suit for swimming in the sea, we have almost no waves here and the water is pretty warm, windsurfing might be an option though
  • Clothing for hiking
  • Warm jacket for evening time
  • Chocolate! Or whatever essential snacks you’re craving
  • Pillow and favorite cuddle blanket


Be prepared

Please read “Natural Building Companion” before the workshop. Watch some videos on YouTube about natural building and browse our gallery to get an idea of what to expect from the workshop. Please bring your book(s) and any other books or poems to share as well as slideshows, videos, movies and downloaded building site music playlists!!!

Share what you are good at

If you are a qualified teacher or leader in something beneficial to our month-long time together, and would like to offer it up, please don’t hesitate to speak to the Instructors before or during the Workshop! We are open to non-building activities in the evenings and at night…if the energy is there of course.

Take care of yourself

Make sure to take care of your personal needs, drink a lot of water, rest when needed and exert yourself at a steady pace. Let us know if you cannot do strenuous physical work before the workshop begins, so we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and then help the building part in less physically demanding ways, for example cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is a lot to do besides making and building!

Important information


You will be camping in the lovely olive grove. Compost toilets, hot and cold showers, a dining area, yoga/dance space and a cozy hangout communal area with fire circle will be offered for maximum comfort and enjoyment during this wonderful and transformational time together. Wifi may be available onsite, if not, you can get a prepaid sim card at the airport (vodafone for 18,99€ with 40 GB including limited international calls).

If you don’t want to bring your tent, Christoph & Mario offered to provide one for a one time fee of 50€ for the whole workshop. This could save you some kilos of luggage maybe even reduce your air fare.

There are also 5 beds available for rent in the main residence building upon request.


You will be fed 3 delicious meals a day during the weekdays, prepared by experienced cooks. Permaskills workshop hosts always serve amazing food to students in gratitude for their hard work! We will be providing mainly ovo-lacto-vegetarian food. Therefore we can be sustainable and meet most culinary tastes. Depending on student’s needs we could have fish, meat or vegan options however. We will try to meet people’s requirements, so make sure to communicate them as soon as possible. On weekends, food will be available on site for you to prepare.

Workshop Instructor

Robert ‘Cob-Rob’ Brendler has been doing construction work since the age of 12 when he accompanied his grandpa on construction sites during his summer vacation. He’s a Jack of all trades, experienced in Masonry, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical Wiring, Home Automation, Cob Building & Sculpting, Green-Roofs, Non Violent Communication, Teaching and Team-Building and is bringing it all together to give you a complete experience from foundation to roof. Robert loves the Natural Building Community and bringing together the kind of people that are interested in it. He loves teaching and the look on faces when people succeed in doing things they never imagined they could do.

Transport & Logistics

Arriving by plane, you can fly into Lamezia Terme. First thing in Lamezia Terme Aeroporto (airport) is to get to Lamezia Terme Centrale (train station) by taxi, bus LMS47 or foot (2.5 km).

From there take a bus or train for 1.5 hours to Badolato Marina ( 6.90 € ) where we will pick you up. Check out the trainline app (android | ios) for a paperless ticket or the trenitalia website for direct booking (link). Please aim to arrive onsite by Sunday at noon at the latest but if you are coming from far away better to arrive on Friday or Saturday to have time to settle in and adjust.

Registration & Payment

The fee for the 35-Day Natural Building Workshop is:

  • VERY EARLY BIRD rates start at 600€ for 2 weeks
  • option: save another 50€ per week with a work trade

Payment can be made by bank transfer in Euros, using Transferwise, Paypal, Zelle or Venmo. To hold your spot  in this workshop you will need to pay 50% of the fee with the balance due by one week before the workshop start date. Please contact robert.brendler@gmail.com to register.

We always offer 4 work trade discounts, 2 in the kitchen making breakfast in the morning and 2 onsite in the morning before breakfast or in the afternoon between class and dinner. Each work trade is for one hour a day for 10€ off per day or 50€ off the tuition cost of a week. To apply for these work trade positions please contact robert.brendler@gmail.com.

Also please contact robert.brendler@gmail.com for more information. Optional via Whatsapp +4915158593588.




September 7, 2020
October 11, 2020
Event Category:


Christoph & Mario’s permaculture project
Strada Provinciale 136
Badolato, Catanzaro 88060 Italy
+49 151 585 935 88


View Organizer Website