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Natural Homes

A lot of stuff you find in nature can be used to build a house. And here you can read about it, find courses, or talk about it!

We call this page “Natural Homes”, but we’ll also talk about not-so-natural stuff: what some people dump in the trash bin can be of great use too in your house building project.

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.