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!
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
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.
In this guest post by Jon Sojkowski, he chronicles common misperceptions of African vernacular architecture and how it is being abandoned for the status that comes with living in conventional Western style buildings. He asks whether these modern materials are truly better than the vernacular options.
By Jon Sojkowski
African vernacular architecture is a subject that has had very little attention. The lack of documentation and available data on the internet has led to a severe misunderstanding of a type of architecture that a large percentage of the population in Africa living in on a daily basis. The lack of data has led to negative perceptions regarding African vernacular architecture, mainly that it is temporary, primitive or for the poor. Most people, when they think of a mud hut, get an image of a dilapidated mud structure which is quite small and has a thatch roof. Sadly, this perception exists both inside and outside the African continent, but it is simply not the truth. Continue reading
In this edition of the Owner-builder journey, Franz Muhl writes about a mud brick addition to his Scarborough home: “Let me build a home from fertile materials that is beautiful and healthy to live in, have a very low footprint and would grow a forest if you left it.”
Five years ago, Peter McIntosh gave me +- 900 sun-baked mud bricks, for an extension to my house. With little start up money, a trickle of income, some plans on google sketch up, a pickaxe and, most importantly, plenty of time, I finally started the process a year ago.
At foundation level, with the skills that I had at the time, I used clay-fired bricks and a bitumen coat for damp-proofing. In March, I headed off to Berg-en-dal for a crash course with Peter. He traded his skills and knowledge in natural building for mine in brewing beer. To take clay, sand, water and a bit of straw in the right proportions and work it into a material for building, was a big revelation for me. Continue reading
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. You will be empowered to be successful and make rational choices whatever the given situation.
We’re excited to announce the first course of the year will be taking place from 26 April – 2 May, at Wild Spirit Backpacker’s lodge in the beautiful Nature’s Valley.
Take the first step to a sustainable future by learning hands-on natural building skills. Understand the alchemy of how different types of earth work, and do not work together, their potential and limitations. You will also explore questions around sustainable living based in Peter McIntosh’s experience living off-grid since 1999.
Email email@example.com to book your spot!