Laurie first wrote for us back in 2014 about her journey as an owner-builder and the challenges of building with mud on the edge of Hwange National park, Zimbabwe. She recently posted an update and we knew our readers would want to see what she’s been up to… Their family home is complete and their gardens are thriving as they continue to live a simple life alongside wildlife.
We’re thrilled to announce Peter McIntosh will be co-facilitating Long Way Home’s inaugural Green Building Academy in Guatemala this year. Participants can expect a solid grounding and hands-on experience in green, sustainable building and construction practices, social development and a rich cultural immersion. The Academy will take place in Comalapa, Guatemala, and will draw on the expertise of the Academy‘s instructors, who for 9 years have built an 18-building school using state-of-the-art green and sustainable technologies and methods.
The Green Building Academy provides a menu of unique educational options that are relevant to both professionals and students inside AND outside of the construction industry. Guided by best practices in green construction, the Academy is dedicated to educating individuals and organizations, in both theory and practical application, about sustainable design, planning, and building practices. Participants will connect to their environment, and develop increased consciousness & competence relating to sustainability, environmental & ecological balance, and ethical & respectful community development. The Academy equips participants with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to apply their creativity to design and construction using sustainable, unconventional materials and low-impact methodologies with potential for off-grid implementation.
COURSE DETAILS: Continue reading
2017 saw the devastating effects of fire across the world. In South Africa we witnessed fires in the Garden route, Gordon’s bay and Cape Point to name a few. The devastating California wild fires left thousands homeless. Yet, straw bale houses have proved to be resilient despite the myths of straw bale houses’ flammability.
On New year’s day the iconic straw bale house of Simon and Jasmine in the UK burned down after a freak electrical fault ignited some stored reclaimed plastic stuff they intended to use under the earth floors downstairs as insulation.
With an exciting line-up of natural builders and designers from around the world, you better be prepared to be inspired and learn from some of the world’s leading pioneers in the field of natural building.
It is a rare opportunity to be able to gather with so many like-minded people that share in your interests and passions. Unfortunately, with our South African currency and the fact that our course is a week after the conference we won’t be attending, but we’re sharing the information here in the hopes that someone from South Africa and/or Africa will represent the work being done across our beautiful continent.
19:00 Sun Ray Kelley – Gardeners of Eden
21:00 Simon Dale – The hobbit house, Lammas eco village
9:00 Dan Grmela – Experience from 40 finished straw-bale buildings in CZ
10:00 Aleš Mádr – The story of the Mádr’s straw-house
11:00 Luba Cvrk – Loadbearing strawbale structures – practical experience
12:00 Marek Vlček – Reconstruction with the use of natural building materials
14:30 Nitzan Iserovitch – Deep in the mud
15:30 Presentation of eco-friendly companies
17:00 Marek Rabík – Work of Conscious Craftsmen with Respect to Nature,Spray plastering
18:00 The Panel Discussion of Participating Experts –
The Professionalisation, Innovation and Competitiveness of Natural Building
20:00 Afterparty, Networking, Clay plasters workshop with Vlastik Baránek
9:00 Honza Křivonožka – Accumulation Stove : Efficient and healthy heating. Options for combination, functions and shapes.
10:00 Pavel Podruh – Czech Off-Grid Houses
11:00 Otakar Chochola – Feng shui, Quality of space in the transformation of time
12:00 Michal Kravčík – Let’s Renew Rain
13:00 The End of the Conference
Price for Conference
Whole Conference: 130 €/person
Discount for couples, groups, students and pensioners: 110€/person
Price for individual days
Friday: 40 €
Saturday: 70 €
Sunday: 30 €
Contact for registration – http://
Attend our natural building course and take the first step to a sustainable future by learning hands-on natural building skills. Learn a whole range of materials and techniques while exploring questions around sustainable living based in Peter McIntosh’s experience living off-grid since 1999.
If you’re serious about building naturally and sustainably then you’ll know that each technique has pros and cons. That is why our natural building course is designed around the principles of understanding earth, how it works and does not work together. You will leave with the theoretical understanding and practical grounding of a range of techniques and materials, so that you are able to make the most appropriate decisions regarding materials and or sustainability once you are ready to begin your project.
This year, Peter will be hosting two CPD accredited courses at Jakkalskloof farm, in Swellendam. Continue reading
“The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.” – Roland Tiangco
As the end of the year approaches, we want to wish you well over the festive season, and thank you for your support in 2017. You helped us finish the Delft Early Childhood Development centre, start and almost complete a training centre for early childhood development in Delft, as well as host our two usual natural building courses and co-host a sustainable building course with earth and tyres in partnership with our friends Long Way Home. Prior to the course Long Way Home commissioned a manual for sustainable building which was authored by Peter McIntosh and Guy Williams (LWH).
During the past year, we were part of the design team for a new ECD in Strand with our focus on sustainable materials and passive solar design. It will be built from rammed earth, compressed earth brick and some ecobricks, offgrid and treat its own black water. This five star rated green building will serve a disadvantaged area in Strand for around 400 children. Unfortunately, it’s on hold due to the current drought. We have also been giving design inputs on other City of Cape Town projects that are in various stages of planning. We are also working with Ikamva Labantu on using sustainable building in ECDCs in the NGO sector.
It has been a tough year, but a year of advances too. So we would like to give you an overview of the year, and to thank you, especially our donors, friends and volunteers, for the contributions you have made to the successes of the year.
We give you a very brief recap of the blog and then continue to update you on the Delft ECD, as well as our progress with the training centre. Continue reading
In honour of women’s day we asked Anita Venter a few questions about her grassroots development initiative using sustainable building methods in Bloemfontein. We have great admiration for the shack replacement initiative and what she has done to empower her change agents to become more self-sufficient and build community in her local context. We first got to know of the work Anita does when she invited Peter to participate in the Lebone Arts and cultural centre, a collaborative project with Los Tecnicos in 2014. We were also honoured to host her and six of her change agents on one of our natural building courses in 2015.
How did you first get involved in natural/sustainable building? Tell us about the journey.
Since the early 2000s I have done many research studies on housing from socio-economic and policy perspectives. Continue reading
We’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign because we really need your help to finish building the edu-centre in Delft so carers from informal crèches can get training in early childhood development.
We are busy building a passive solar, earth sheltered building out of tyres, cob, compressed earth bricks and glass bottles at the Delft Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre. But, we need your help to finish building it. The building will be an edu-centre so carers from informal crèches can get training in early childhood development.
Please consider making a contribution to the campaign or spreading the word to people you know.
Following our involvement with building the Delft Early Childhood Development centre with natural and sustainable building materials we saw the space and need for an adult training centre there so that, amongst other things, carers from informal crèches in Delft and surrounding areas can receive training in early childhood development.
If you’ve ever been to a township you’ve seen how many children under the age of seven are often milling about, quietly entertaining themselves. They are starting their young lives at a distinct disadvantage as they will start primary school at age seven without any educational preparation. This is disastrous for these children and the future of our country. In the Cape Town area there are a staggering 18 000 children up to the age of 7 years old who do not attend an edu-care (according to local authority figures). Strong, inspiring and tenacious women (and occasionally men as well) qualify themselves as ECD teachers and operate an ECD from informal structures.
Visit Thundafund to make your contribution!
It has been widely accepted that the first 1000 days in a child’s life is critical to their, as well as society-at-large’s health and wellbeing. During this period, children’s brains can form 1,000 neural connections every second and these connections are the building blocks of their future. But, we need your help to complete the building…
What we have achieved to so far:
- Peter McIntosh has raised R120 000 from The Sophia foundation towards materials and has donated three months of his time towards the success of the project.
- We have provided employment for eight members of the local community during the building process.
- We have provided a month-long training sustainable building course including for architecture students of CPUT. The course was presented in collaboration with Guy Williams on behalf of international NGO Long Way Home from Guatemala.
- We have also used provided other learning opportunities for volunteers, architecture interns.
We need to get from here:
How we’ll use your contribution:
With your help we can complete this building… Your contribution will go towards completing the following activities:
- Planning gum pole purloins to level to install roof sheets
- Installing IBR roof sheets
- Complete last two sections of ring beam (shutter/form and pour concrete)
- Source and make over 2000 more bottle bricks
- Install bottle bricks in cob above ring beam
- Cob scratch plaster coat, form coat and final lime plaster coat internally
- Form and final plaster coat on internal and external bottle walls
- Level and stamp floor
- Gravel, newspaper, cob and compressed earth brick floor layers
- Final layer on floor
- External plaster finishes on tyre walls and ringbeams
- Final touches on tyre retaining wall and earth berm
- Front level ramp and paving threshold
- Painting fibre board on door-front
With your support we are making a difference… Please consider making a contribution to the campaign or spreading the word. Thank you!
We recently embarked on our first Sustainable Building Course with Earth and Tyres in collaboration with international NGO rockstars Long Way Home. You may have been eager to join in, but due to time or financial constraints had to sit it out? The sustainable building course ends on Friday 19 May, but we still have a lot to do to complete the building. That’s where your opportunity comes in…
Since 2010, I have been dedicated to training people interested in natural and sustainable building. The only common denominator among all the participants was their eagerness to live a life more in harmony with nature and the natural environment.
Since those early days I have seen a steady increase in the number of people interested in what was initially considered an alternative lifestyle. And as the planet seems to be going a little bit more haywire with every passing season, be it electoral or climatic, more and more people are starting a journey towards greater independence and freedom. For many people this means ensuring their primary needs, food, shelter and water are taken care of in one way or another. Often the first step on this journey is building their own dwelling, a deeply satisfying and empowering experience.
Recently, I’ve been engaged with the City of Cape Town and introducing natural and alternative building materials to the public built environment. The first project was the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre in Delft. Delft, is one of the poorer suburbs in Cape Town with some staggering violent crime statistics. The city is playing the long game as the first 1000 days of a person’s life plays a vital role in the rest of their lives. Early intervention and development is essential. That is why I’m excited about the subtle potential of the environmentally friendly building, exposing children from a young age to the creative potential of earth and other alternative construction materials. And let’s face it, it’s a beautiful and healthy environment that any child will be lucky to grow up in.
But, I wanted to take it a step further and provide a beautiful and natural training space for ECD carers to train in too. We’re presenting it in collaboration with international NGO Long Way Home – tyre building experts and all-round inspiring humans doing amazing things in rural Guatemala. With support from The Sophia Foundation and buy-in from the City we embarked on this journey at the end of April with our very first Sustainable Building Course with Earth and Tyres. You may have been eager to join in, but due to time or financial constraints had to sit it out?
We are busy building a passive solar, earth sheltered building out of tyres, cob, compressed earth bricks, ecobricks and glass bottles at the Delft Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre. But, the sustainable building course ends on Friday 19 May and we still have a lot to do to complete the building (check out our progress). The anticipated date of completion is the end of June. That’s where your opportunity comes in!
We’re sending out a call for volunteers to participate and assist in the completion of the build. It is impossible for us to say what will happen on which dates, but overall the following activities will be taking place from now until the end of June, and we hope you can join us:
- Cob pack-out and plastering of tyre walls
- Steel reinforced concrete ring beam installation
- Bottle bricks in cob
- Compressed earth brick floor
- Roof installation
- Lime plaster finishes
- Earth berm installation
- General tom-foolery
To participate in this unique opportunity you need to have completed one of my previous courses. Please email us your name and contact information as well as days that you are available to join us.
To find out more about the Delft ECD centre and what we’ve been up to you can read the article that appeared in Earthworks Magazine, or you can check out the albums on Facebook and Flickr. We’ve also created a series of shortfilms about the different materials that were used in the build, you can check them out here.
We hope you can join us on this journey.