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Natural Building Course

1st to 10th May 2014, Varzea da Gonçala, Algarve

Construction of an open-space Round House from Natural Materials

Vàrzea da Gonçala presents a dynamic, practical, and interactive learning experience, building, from scratch, a 7-metre diameter, 12-sided roundhouse, with earth-mix and timber walls and reciprocal roof, and earthen floor, to be used as an amenity space.

Over the ten days of the course, participants will learn the following skills:

  • the principles involved in the different aspects of the construction
  • preparing the foundations for the walls and earthen floor
  • designing and building the structural timber skeleton
  • timber selection and natural treatments
  • window and door installation
  • constructing the reciprocal (self-supporting) roof from eucalyptus poles
  • setting the living roof, with drainage
  • earth mixes and soil analysis for building
  • a selection of different methods of wall-making, including: adobe bricks, wattle and daub, cordwood, and adobe infilling
  • lime and earth plasters
  • how to make the structure stand the test of time

Your facilitator for the course is Ruka, a Natural Builder and Permculture Designer of 10 years’ experience, with a passion for sharing the knowledge and skills he has learned – and for inspiring people by facilitating the building of beautiful, practical, homely, and unique buildings.
All the above aspects of the build will be covered. Though the ten days will not be sufficient to complete the structure, participants are invited, for no extra charge, to continue with the construction, gaining practical experience, after the course.

There will be one rest day during the ten days, with a chance to visit the amazing surf beaches of the west Algarve coast.

The price for the course is €360, which includes camping facilities and three excellent vegetarian meals each day, with convivial evenings in our social space, The Pit. Participants are encouraged to bring musical instruments!

It is recommended you bring a torch and strong boots.

Small Ideas that make a Big Difference

The feel of warm sand between your feet, a smile from a stranger, a happy bumble bee on your balcony – it’s often the little things that make our day. That’s why we love this category: A collection of great, easy ideas that may look small but could help to make the world a nicer place.


“Projects” is the place to read about dreams and visions that are being materialized.

Are you involved in a project that will help to make this world the magnificent place it wants to be, focusing on sustainability and spirited cooperation? Please let me know!

Permaculture Design Course

April 17 – 27 2014, Varzea da Gonçala, Algarve

Várzea da Gonçala are happy to announce our 9th Permaculture Design Course, to be conducted by the excellent Peter Cow, coming to teach our spring course for his third consecutive year.

Course participants will complete the full syllabus of the original 72-hour course developed by the instigators of Permaculture, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, covering the principles, practical applications, and philosophy of the discipline. At the end of the course, students will receive the internationally recognised Permaculture Design certificate.

As usual, there will three excellent vegetarian meals per day, supplied either from our own garden or local organic smallholdings, and the special Várzea welcome and ambience. These courses are always full of positive energy. multi-national and multi-backgrounded!

Prices and Facilities

The price for the 11 days is €450, which includes all meals, camping, hot showers, all on-site facilities, and an opportunity to see an evolving permaculture smallholding at an interesting stage in its develepment. There is also limited dormitory accommodation available for an additional €75 per person for the duration of the course.

To enrol for the course, we ask for a deposit of 200 euros, which can be paid for by bank transfer or Paypal. Details of how to do this can be found on the “booking” page of this site. If neither of these are possible, please contact us and we can always arrange some other way.

More info:


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