Friday, March 9, 2012

Building with Cob - Not So Wacky

I came across an article on homes made from wacky materials, which linked to another article on the same homes—plus a few more—made from wacky materials.  Both article piqued my interest, but neither was very in-depth.  That's the way it goes with these "articles" that are basically slide shows of pictures to make you go, "Hm, that's neat."  And the pictures were pretty neat.  A beach home made from shipping containers, a Dumpster converted to a little apartment, a house made from recycled pieces of highway!  But I wanted to know more.

I was particularly interested in the cob house, which differed from the others in that it wasn't built from salvaged materials but built from low-cost, sustainable natural materials like old-school thatched cottages.

Brian Liloia's cob house.
Cob is similar to clay.  You mix lumps of earth with sand and straw and form it with your hands into walls, stairs, ovens, benches, you name it.  People have been doing it for centuries.  The guy who built this particular cob house even posted on his own blog that it's funny his house made the "wacky materials" list considering half of the world's population lives in earthen buildings.  Just not the half we see everyday in our cities of steel skyscrapers and suburbs wood-frame McMansions.

I wish I had known about cob when I was building all those forts in the woods back in the day.  We lived in new subdivision, where many houses were still under construction, so the forts I built with my sister, cousins, and friends were always made of the scraps we salvaged from the construction workers favorite dumping ground.  But, if I'd known about cob!  We could have built a whole village of little cottages.  I wonder if anyone would have noticed or cared.  Oh well.

Hilde's Cob interior, Cobworks 1999.
Anyway, cob may be the next new old thing in building trends.  Check out the Cob Cottage Company or Earth Hands & Houses or Cobworks...  There's so much out there!  You'll see we're not just talking hobbit houses here.  Existing cob buildings range from utilitarian mud huts in the desert to charming vacation cottages in the northern woods.

Perhaps if we found some empty land for sale...

No comments:

Post a Comment