Natural Building Workshop at Glacial Lakes Permaculture, Estelline SD

Natural Building Workshop: Cob and Earthbag (Superadobe)

May 15 & 16, 2011 (Sunday and Monday)

Well-known permaculturists André Soares and Lucy Legan from Ecocentro IPEC in Brazil will share their natural building knowledge and skills in this 2-day workshop!

Participants will learn about natural building methods and the natural building revival movement. They will have an overview of the most used natural building elements and how they are being applied in Ecocentro IPEC in Brazil.

Workshop participants will experience two of the most popular methods of natural building, cob and superadobe (or earthbag) by building a wood-fired pizza/baking oven. We will build the base of the oven with superadobe, demonstrating how this method can be used to achieve solid construction. The oven itself will be built with bricks and cob, a mud mix with straw, clay and sand. Students will learn how the simple method of mixing cob can provide a building material that is versatile and durable as well as allowing organic forms.

Why Cob?

Cob is a very old method of construction of houses. In the region of Yorkshire, in England, many houses of Cob are over 500 years and still remain in perfect condition. Cob is the most basic method of using earth as a building material because it does not require many tools or expertise. It is a sculpture of mud. Many natural organic forms can be achieved and its a method of construction suited to anyone, promoting the involvement of the family, women and children in the process of building their home.

Why Earthbag?

Superadobe was developed by the Iranian architect Nader Khalili and it’s a favorite method of construction with architects because of the speed with which the walls are built. Superadobe walls are structural components that can support the weight of the roof as well as providing thermal mass. It is a simple method of construction that requires working in groups, but needs only a few simple tools and materials.

What will be built?

Brick dome pizza oven – Fast to build and can allow the view of the oven as soon as it’s finished. This is the traditional way of building bread and pizza ovens. We will build a base of bricks and with a hemispheric plywood mold we guide bricks around a semi-circle, forming a dome.

The cob mix will be used as mortar and plastered over. This option allows for a better sculptural finish as it cracks less and let’s people exercise their artistic flair decorating the oven. A small fire can be built soon after completion.

COST: $90 for both days; $45 for one day – includes instruction & hands-on activities, and a locally-grown lunch each day.

CONTACT: Karl Schmidt at


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