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
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
We catch up with Paul Marais about his award-winning off grid, rammed earth house in Maun, Botswana.
First off, congratulations on winning the Afrisam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation for Sustainable Product/Technology for your design of the rammed earth Otto cottage in Maun, Botswana.
Thank you, I am very pleased for recognition of this off grid, rammed earth building , where I designed and built the house, energy & water systems and sewerage.
How did you first get involved in natural building?
I have been always interested in natural buildings and as a student studied natural building in Malawi and Zambia. I have travelled a lot in remote Africa and have an interest in indigenous architecture which is both material and energy efficient. Continue reading
Do we as ethical natural builders have a right to deny someone a home simply based on the argument of its purity? Surely it’s about having the humility to acknowledge that sustainability is about economy and social justice as much as it is about ecology. Scott Gallant from Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica writes that the transition ethic says that no one is going from zero to sustainable overnight. Making the transition takes time and, we have to meet people where they are at.
This post first appeared on Numundo on 16 February 2016. We are re-posting it here with the permission of Shayna Gladstone and author Scott Gallant.
To introduce the post, we’d like to share with you why we were so excited to read Scott’s post. Written by Scott Gallant from Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center in Costa Rica, the post is based on his experience teaching the three permaculture ethics during the center’s Permaculture Design Courses, and the realization that a fourth ethic is required in order to facilitate a conversation about compromise. They filled the gap with the Transition Ethic. Scott quotes Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein, authors of Practical Permaculture, who acknowledge that “the transition ethic says that no one is going from zero to sustainable overnight. Making the transition takes time.” He goes on to say that “We have to meet people where they are at. We must understand their cultural context.” 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.