Thinking of building an earthen home? Cob, adobe, earthbag, compressed earth block ( CEB ), rammed earth, sod or terrón. What ever flavor of earthen architecture you choose, this may be useful in planning the structure and working with local building officials.
This delicious 900 round foot hand-sculpted building is the work of Austin, Texas resident Gary Zuker. Seems to have come straight out of medieval times. He wasn’t a professional builder when he embarked on creating this master piece, but you wouldn’t know it! I really admire the craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Gary used timber frame and straw/clay infill technique for his wall system. Straw/Clay A.K.A: Leichtlehmbau ( a German term for light straw-clay ), light-clay or my favorite – slippy-straw. Light-clay is lighter than traditional cob, about half the weight per cubic foot and has greater insulating properties. It’s packed into temporary forms and allowed to dry before plastering. Check out Gary’s article illustrating the technique [pdf].
Light-clay generally isn’t load bearing, no matter, that’s where the timber frame structure comes in. A scissor-truss system was used for the home’s roof structure made from pine from a sawmill nearby. Local stones were hauled to create the epic entrance and fireplace. To top it off Delores, Gary’s wife, artfully created stained glass windows for the home.
If you’ve voyaged into the realm of natural building you’ve probably seen the awe inspiring work of Master Sculptor Builder SunRay Kelly. His sculptural homes seem to come straight out of a dream! He has been a great teacher and inspiration for many. Personally, the moment I saw a photo of the “The Yogurt” I was hooked on cob and the possibilities for our built environment. Thanks SunRay!
I love this story on his website:
SunRay’s organic designs take their form from the shapes of living trees. His study of architecture and sculpture only reinforced his affinity for the forms Nature takes, in rejection of the artificial forms in rectilinear Western architecture.
The teacher in his first college drafting class told SunRay on seeing his designs,
“Learn to use a hammer, boy, because no one but you is going to be able to build that.”
SunRay’s work is showcased, by his daughter Kumara, on MTV Extreme Cribs.
We get a tour through the one-of-a-kind homestead known as The Nature Village.
The word Cob translates from ol’ English as “lump or mass.” In my experience I’ve noticed that “Cob” is used very flexibly in conversation. Seems to mean so much more than the simple building material of clay, sand and straw. I find Cob is almost referred to as a entity. It represents a departure from conventional thinking, a freedom of form, both in shape and in spirit. It has become a adjective for a path to wholeness; living in tune with the Earth. It points to a tool for community; bringing people together. To some it’s a über-green way of living. Comfort, ergonomics, self expression, free material, hobbit homes: whimsy and fantasy, health, sculpture, nesting, home. All this in a “stuff.” I started thinking, what does Cob represent to me? Continue Reading…