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
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.
In Delft, an impoverished township on the outskirts of the Cape Flats, local government is changing its approach to building early childhood development centres with a pioneering project showcasing a hybrid of natural building methods and up-cycled waste materials.
By Mary Anne Constable
This post first appeared on Earthworks Magazine in February 2017. We are re-posting it here with the permission of Young Africa Publishing and author Mary-Anne Constable.
Peter McIntosh, founder of the Natural Building Collective was the project coordinator for the alternative materials (natural and recycled) portion of the Delft ECD build.
The new Delft ECD (Early Childhood Development Centre) represents the first time that government – in this case the City of Cape Town – has significantly integrated alternative and unconventional building methods for the construction of a public building.
The considered design of the Delft ECD building is an example that will make an essential contribution to the development of South Africa’s youngest residents. The alternative building materials, which include both natural methods (compressed earth bricks and cob) and recycled waste materials (ecobricks, tyres, glass bottles), deviate from conventional brick and concrete, while creating a healthy environment. Continue reading
Attend our natural building course this year and learn some essential practical skills to help you on your way to living the off-grid dream.
We are thrilled to announce that both our courses will be held at Jakkalskloof bio-dynamic training farm in Swellendam this year.
Dates for 2017:
- 19 – 25 March: Natural building course: materials and techniques (7 category 1 SACAP credits) ~ Jakkalskloof farm
- 8 – 14 October: Natural building course: materials and techniques (7 category 1 SACAP credits) ~ Jakkalskloof farm
For more information please visit our course page or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot!
In the first of our series of Q&As with pioneers of natural and sustainable building in South Africa and beyond, we caught up with Jill Hogan in honour of Women’s day in South Africa.
How did you first get involved in natural building?
In the early 90’s my life changed completely and I found my self alone. In wanting to be part of a community, I met Hurta Stuurman and did some work with her on her cob house at Hermanus/Stanford and knew that this is what I wanted to do. It combined my concept of Permaculture with creating an organic home for myself, while allowing me to use my knowledge of earth/clay.
Tell us about your journey.
In the 70’s I worked for a nursery. I had a pot plant business, but was exposed to organic veggie gardening and became more and more interested. At the same time, I started doing pottery and assisted in teach children with learning disabilities now known as ADHD, and so was exposed to lateral thinking.
In the 80’s I went back to “school” and did a fine arts majoring in ceramics.
In 1992 I was introduced to Permaculture and did the design course with John Wilson from Fambidanzia, at Tlholego in Rustenberg, and I developed a true passion for sustainable development.
Someone was setting up an Eco Village in McGregor and I was drawn to become one of the original developers. But personality clashes among the original six members caused the project to collapse, sending me into McGregor itself where I bought a piece of land in the town. Continue reading
Announcing our first natural building course for 2016! Our natural building course is comprehensive and covers a range of materials and techniques based on Peter McIntosh’s professional and personal experience working with these approaches and from having lived off-grid since 1999.
The course will be taking place at Wild Spirit Backpacker’s in Nature’s valley from 17 – 23 April. 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.
Drop us an email to book your place and avoid disappointment.
The TERRA award is a collaborative effort on an international scale to enable both professionals and the general public to fully appreciate earth’s increasing popularity as a building material of high aesthetic and technical quality.
Earth is becoming increasingly popular in contemporary architecture: hundreds of projects of high aesthetic and technical quality are emerging across five continents. This material, which has low embodied energy, is readily available and appropriate for participatory buildings. It could help provide a solution to the needs for ecological and economical housing.
To enable both professionals and the general public to fully appreciate this building material, the following partners have taken the initiative, under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen architecture, construction cultures and sustainable development”, to launch the first international prize for contemporary earthen architecture: the Labex AE & CC-CRAterre-ENSAG Lab research unit, the amàco project, the Grands Ateliers, the CRAterre association and EcologiK/EK magazine.
Wang Shu, 2012 Pritzker architecture prize laureate, is the president of honour of this TERRA Award, the trophies for which will be presented in Lyon on July 14, 2016 at the Terra 2016 World Congress.
Since its creation in 1979, the CRAterre-ENSAG Lab has been considered as the international research and training reference centre for earthen construction. It will organize in July 2016, under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen architecture”, the Terra 2016. This World Congress takes place every four years on a different continent and will be held for the second time in Europe. It is expected to draw around 800 professionals, teachers and researches to Lyon (France).
The TERRA Award was initiated within this framework. It will be the first international prize for contemporary earthen architecture and a natural furtherance of the national award launched in 2013 in France by CRAterre-ENSAG, AsTerre and EcologiK/EK magazine.
The purpose of the TERRA Award is not only to identify and distinguish outstanding projects, but also to highlight the audacity of the project owners for choosing to use earth, the creativity of the designers and the skills of the craftsmen and entrepreneurs.
An itinerant exhibition will feature 40 buildings from all continents, constructed using various techniques (adobe, cob, CEB, rammed earth, plaster, etc.) for all types of programs: housing, public facilities, activities, and exterior and interior designs. The exhibition will be completed with lectures and workshops by CRAterre-ENSAG and the amàco project.
The search for outstanding achievements deserving of this prize and the associated exhibition will make it possible to generate the first worldwide database on contemporary earthen architecture. The resulting virtual library will be available both to the general public and professionals via this website.
The projects must have been completed after January 2000.
There are eight categories covering all types of programs, whether new or renovated:
- Individual housing
- Collective housing
- School, sports and health facilities
- Cultural facilities and religious buildings
- Offices, shops and factories
- Interior layout and design
- Exterior design, art and landscape
- Architecture and local development
Text from the Terra Award website.
Passive solar design can dramatically reduce our demands on fossil fuels and other forms of energy input, allowing our buildings to become producers and not consumers of energy and resources, supporting us in a healthier more comfortable abundant way.
Passive solar design is the starting point of sustainable building. Once one understands the basic principles of using the abundant natural renewable resources at our disposal we become more creative in our approach to design, more in tune and observant, reconnecting us with the natural rhythms that surround and sustain us, if only we would pay attention. Sustainable buildings save money, reduce your carbon footprint and provide a healthy living environment, transforming buildings from consumers of energy to producers and forging buildings that meet our needs.
From a permaculture perspective, incorporating these aspects into the design of your home are excellent examples of several permaculture design principles. To mention the most obvious: Observing and interacting with your environment to make the most of the sun’s migration, catching and storing energy, using and valuing renewable resources and services, integrating functions and elements rather than segregating them and obtaining a yield from the planet’s most abundant energy source, the sun.
Passive Solar Design uses the energy provided by the sun and stored in the earth. First we need to look at how this energy is utilized by defining insulation and thermal mass and then look at the strategies of how to incorporate them into our designs.