Natural Building School
Our Natural Building School began as a self-education program for the members and residents of Earthaven Ecovillage and their neighbors all across Western North Carolina. What we learned evolved into beautiful homes, both “natural” and “green,” and provided the inspiration for introductory weekends, longer intensives, and single- and multi-year internships that have inspired hundreds of participants to venture further into natural building, for themselves and their clients. Participants have also included those on Summer break from college, architecture students, community founders from across the continent and local folks with a similar mission: to learn and pass along healthy, low-impact, community-oriented methods and materials for building natural, efficient, durable and affordable places to live and work.
Come join us in 2014 for the latest projects on the drawing board. We anticipate plenty of cobbing and earth block-laying at the Village Arts Building, earthen plaster adventures at Bellavia Gardens and at the Earthaven Council Hall, an earthen floor workshop and a weekend of cob oven construction. Applications for the Natural Building Internship program and other detailed information is available here.
"What we learned evolved into beautiful homes, both 'natural' and 'green'..."
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Natural Building Internships
Learn, practice and become skilled at many facets of natural building while exploring life in an intentional community! We are especially interested in interns who will have long-term involvement with Earthaven, and are also accepting applications for seasonal terms.
In 2014, our projects will include the continuing construction of the Village Arts Building at Earthaven with more timber-framing and joinery work, cob-and-block wall building, and opportunities to work with other infill materials. Several earthen plaster and paint projects around the community are also on the boards.
In line with our vision of the Village Arts studios being where artists and craftspeople create for market, our interns will be working on prototypes for small timber products. Long-term interns gain, in addition to unique and traditional skills and arts, generous equity in the Building itself and potential ownership of one of its studios.
Internships generally require residency at Earthaven, and integration in the community’s New Roots program for long-term students and guests. You can check out more about living at Earthaven here, and download our Natural Building Internship Handbook. If you decide you would like to submit an application for the natural building internship, please send it to Arjuna da
Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to sharing the liberating power of natural building with you!
One member went out to Oregon to learn about cob construction at the Cob Cottage Company. Several others traveled to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylania to learn a clay-straw (aka slip-straw) technique. A traveling natural builder who’d worked with strawbales ran a brief workshop for a family eager to house themselves. One of our founders is a stucco expert and his work with interior and exterior practices gave us quite a head start. Still, our early work was crude and not always long-lasting.
Nonetheless, we learned a lot working with Earthaven members on their cob-and-strawbale Council Hall and Hut Hamlet Kitchen, and on a variety of small earth-and-straw huts that gave us time to improve our work and study its outcomes.
Finally, in 2004, the first natural building internship program was held at Leela House, an owner-designed natural home which was started in a series of weekend and week-long workshops during the previous two summers. The interns, led by local craft-builder Steve (“Steve-o”) Brodmerkel and various friends, saw the walls of this unique, hand-built “house of love” rise to the roof and left it just about ready for finishing.
Now that the walls were up, the work could continue in Winter. One or two apprentices a year next joined Steve-o and owner Arjuna da Silva to draw the interior of the building towards the standards of the walls. Now the woodwork really began to stand out—including the gorgeous poplar and pine paneling and fine scribing of boards and posts that were done.