What is Natural Building?

Natural Building in its simplest form is building with materials harvested from the natural environment with the least amount of processing, like stone, timber, earth and fibers such as straw.

We humans have been building structures for thousands of years from materials directly at hand from Mother Nature. We mimicked mud swallow nests by mixing clay with water and shaping it into cob, adobe brick and mortar. We stacked stone to make protective walls, we cut trees into sturdy beams, we bound reeds into bundles to make thatched roofs.

We used what nature offered from her many diverse environments to build shelter that blended into the landscape.

Natural Building Today makes use of both natural materials and easily available recycled materials. Architectural styles vary from organic to sophisticated in appearance. Let your imagination run wild!

Natural Building embodies a spirit of playfulness and respect that consider the source, impact, beauty and health of the structure, its inhabitants, the effect on the natural environment and most important…the Fun Factor!

As Natural Builders we ask ourselves:

Is it healthy, non-toxic, safe for handling, breathing and living within? What is the Embodied Energy? And most importantly, is it fun stuff to work with?

The Fun Factor

If it ain’t fun, it won’t get done! We like the building process to be enjoyable. We choose materials that are pleasurable to touch, designs that are inspired by the beauty and creativity of nature that are long-lasting and comforting to live within. Earthen walls, clay plasters, adobe floors, timber frame, insulated light clay straw, strawbale, stone masonry, wattle and daub are just some of the many pleasant natural mediums to work with.

 

Embodied Energy

We try to make use of the closest resources available with the least amount of processing to minimize what we call Embodied Energy. Embodied Energy refers to the amount of energy a material consumed to produce it and transport it. We consider how much overall energy went into creating the natural materials or manufactured products we intend to build with. If we can use lumber from a local saw mill or cut trees into logs from the property the building will be built upon rather than import engineered lumber from thousands of mile away than we will be making use of a locally produced Low Embodied Energy material. This is an ideal situation to give you an example of what Low Embodied Energy means. As a rule of thumb; the lower the Embodied Energy, the lower the carbon footprint.

 

 

Harvesting wild red clayey soil from a road cut for use in plaster, cob or adobe brick.

 

Building Performance 

Yes, buildings perform too! Will the materials selected for this building contribute to its performance? If we are building in a cold climate will it help keep the building warm? If we are building in a wet temperate climate will it be well ventilated?

Design

What is the most effective design for this building in this particular environment in this particular location? If we are in a hot dry climate we may consider burrowing deep into the ground where the earth’s cooling temperature remains around 55-F degrees (12-Celcius). Or if it’s cold but sunny do we want to design it for Passive Solar gain? Or are we in a far northern latitude that will have to rely on massive insulation to mitigate the dark cold winters?

Natural Building celebrates beauty, health, simplicity and function with playfulness inspired by affection for the natural world!