Amanda the Architect

documenting the projects and inspirations of an unemployed intern architect with some ambition and lots of time

What is Cob?

Last August I participated in a one-week hands-on cob building workshop. It was incredible. We exchanged our labor for lectures and training on the subject of natural building. The workshop, which took place in North Vancouver, BC, was organized by the Mudgirls and a family interested in building a small cob structure on their land. Over a week, we (a group of about 12) built up the cob walls to a circular 109sq.ft. structure. I would like to share with you a little bit of what I learned in this eye-opening week in a series of posts over the next week outlining the techniques of natural building.

So, what exactly is cob? Cob is a natural building material that is made up of:

  • straw
  • sand
  • clay
  • water

There are many varieties of cob, depending on location and type of locally sourced materials. The main thing to keep in mind with natural building, is to use what is local. And not just local, but what the land has, so you can minimize the use of machines and the project could potentially be free. This is how most vernacular building – and architecture – was created. It is an ancient, deeply rooted technique, that can be guided by our instincts. It’s simply safer, quieter, sustainable, and brings people together.

Tomorrow I will go over all of the tools we used to build our cob structure.


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May 2010
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