Sustainable building course with earth and tyres

Learn to build and design a sustainable energy-producing building!

Take part in a month-long sustainable building course brought to you by Natural Building Collective in conjunction with LONG WAY HOME. We will be 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.

Why you should attend:

  1. You will be making a difference: You will be contributing to build a training centre for carers at ECDs across the city.
  2. You will be participating in a pioneering project: the new Delft ECD is 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. It is pioneering project and will help to promote natural and sustainable building practices in South Africa and beyond.
  3. You will be learning radical new skills: Participants can expect to learn theory, building and design skills in conventional and natural building techniques including foundations, openings, roofs, arches, vaults and domes; alternative building techniques including tyres, ecobricks and glass bottles; passive solar design incorporating thermal mass and insulation; water catchment and management including black and grey water; and design of a customized off-grid energy system.
  4. You will help make the City of Cape Town more eco-friendly: Sustainable building means designing, constructing and operating buildings to minimise the buildings’ impact on environmental and human health by increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment over the entire life cycle of the building.
  5. You will learn how to design for disaster: Our sustainable building course incorporates knowledge on how to design and build an independent system, including water catchment and management of greywater and blackwater and design of a customized off-grid energy system.


The building site is at the Delft Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre.

The Delft community was established in 1989 in Cape Town. It has numerous social problems that are common in rapidly developing poor communities found throughout South Africa. The building will serve as a training centre for carers at ECDs across the city. Read more…


Materials you will work with
• Compressed Earth Blocks
• Adobe & Cob
• Tyres
• Ecobricks
• Glass bottles

Theoretical and practical building and design skills you will learn
• Earth theory and earth tests
• Walls, sills & lintels & plastering/ finishing
• Foundations & footings
• Floors & floor finishes
• Roof structure, roof finish & rainwater goods
• Wall finishes
• Ceilings & insulation
• Doors & Windows
• Recycling components
• Materials testing & safety
• Metalwork
• Power, water and sewage, waste

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The course is non-residential and costs R12 000.


The course starts on 24 April and ends on May 19 2017. It runs from 8am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Your weekends are your own.


1. The Natural building collective’s vision is to nurture the creation of a more sustainable built environment. It is a collaborative project dedicated to educating individuals and organizations about sustainable building’s potential to stimulate the senses, connect people to their environment and awaken our inherent creative potential.

Founder, Peter McIntosh has been building with earth since 1999 and as a result he has a unique level of experience and knowledge about the various natural building materials and techniques in South Africa. On a mission to spread the word about natural building he has been teaching and running natural building courses since 2010 and has honed the craft of transferring the knowledge and practical skills so you leave feeling confident and empowered to start your own project.
Peter walks the talk and he’s been living off-grid and practising permaculture in community living for the same period. We grow as much of our own food as possible, and our home is designed according to passive solar gain with various green technologies that he installed and maintains himself… from solar energy, grey water harvesting, solar food drying and sanitation to name a few.

His passion for sustainability means that he is continually looking for ways to increase his understanding and improve his skill-set, including building with plastic waste and tyres. Recently he’s set his sights on social development and innovation within the industry. He is working closely with the City of Cape Town on several natural and sustainable building projects in some of the poorest communities in the city.

2. Long Way Home is an international NGO that uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment and environmental stewardship.

Guy Williams’ training and work experience include industrial water treatment, aquaponics and aquaculture, water management systems, earth-rammed tyre and trash construction, landscaping and beekeeping. Implementing these diverse skill sets into cohesive holistic products that work for clients is at the core of Guy’s life and work.
Guy was raised in Gaborone, Botswana and studied biological and environmental sciences at Rhodes University. He spent a year doing wildlife research in Tuli and is driven to preserve ecosystems and restore planetary imbalance. He is the founder of Dynegy which pioneers tailor-made integrated solutions for water, energy, shelter and food production challenges from industry to household in Botswana.