Natural Buildings are a reflection of the landscape they are made from. We work with natural materials, in raw natural forms.
Cob is an english term for clay, sand, and straw mixed together, which once compiled and sculpted form an incredibly durable, malleable, and beautiful building material. Building with earth is a long standing tradition of many cultures around the world, and the processes for building with earth are endless. The same materials can be altered to become many different styles of earth building including adobe (unfired earthen bricks), wattle and daub (woven lattice, usually made with saplings, willows, or bamboo, with cob applied to it to make thin walls), rammed earth (sandy cob tamped into a form sometimes with the addition of lime, or portland cement), bajareque (similar to wattle and daub), and more. If it is treated correctly it will last for millennia. There's an old saying that " If you give a cob house a good hat, and a good pair of boots, it will last forever!" Which means if you give the earthen walls a well maintained roof with a good overhang, and a good stem wall/ foundation to keep them off the ground, no matter the weather they will withstand it. It is fire proof, incredibly strong, sculptable, lends itself to curvilinear shapes, is easy to maintain and repair, is endlessly recyclable, holds up well in earthquakes, bugs won't eat it, and it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Due to its mass retaining warmth, and cold, it is ideally suited for moderately cold and desert climates, but can be adapted and combined with other natural building methods to be used almost anywhere you can find clay. It can also be used in Strawbale, Light Clay, and other natural wall systems to sculpt niches, arches, and create other detail elements.
Straw bales are essentially large, insulative bricks. Once you've been in a strawbale home, you'll likely never want to leave. There's something very inviting about thick walls.
Straw is the remnants of grain production, and has a wide variety of uses. It, or something like it, can be found nearly everywhere. However, it is very different from Hay. Straw is usually a yellowish colour, and is a dry, hollow tube. Hay, on the other hand, is usually green, composed of grasses, and is prone to mold and rot, whereas straw - is not. Bales can be load-bearing (hold certain roof loads), stacked on the inside, outside, or within a frame, or combined with a cob mortar of sorts to create bale cob. If they are protected properly with natural finishes they can withstand fire, and all of the other elements. Strawbale works very well in most climates, and is the best suited style of natural building for cold climates, and for north walls (in the northern hemisphere) where you want to keep warmth in, and cold out.
Light clay can mean many things. It invariably refers to creating an insulative mass with clay slip as a binder, and some sort of fibrous or hollow material for insulation and bulk. Straw and slip = Light Straw Clay. Wood chips and slip = Chip and Slip. It is typically packed into a removable/ reusable form and is finished with a natural plaster. It is light in comparison to things such as cob, but heavy compared to fiberglass. When it comes to natural building light clay can be utilized in many ways. It is fast, inexpensive, durable, fire resistant, carbon sequestering, long lasting (500 years or more in traditional light clay homes still standing), insulative, and adaptable. It also fits in very well with conventional construction as a non-toxic substitute to other forms of insulation and eliminates the need for any sort of plastic vapour barrier, drywall, exterior siding, or paints if combined with natural plasters. Light clay is a great option if you have limited amounts of clay or sand, an abundance of straw or wood chips, if you are doing a renovation, or if you want a more insulative material then cob, but a thinner wall than strawbale. It is suited to colder climates than cob, but you may still want to consider strawbale if you have a short summer building season, a very cold winter, or are building in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun to dry out the light clay.