Category Archives: Natural Building

Visiting: Autumn Farm, Bega

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While we were down Bega way at the South East Permaculture Convergence recently, Ashar and I got a chance to hang with my friend Annie at her family’s little patch of paradise, Autumn Farm.

Autumn Farm prettymuch sums up simple living, for me. A home grown, low impact, hand-made life. With a right livelihood to cover the essentials.

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Let there be Mud: the Basics of Natural Building

strawbale building at Milkwood's Natural Building course

Natural Building is rather a broad subject. It takes in everything from strawbale building to cobb, light earth, rammed earth, roundwood construction, earth floors and mud and lime wall renders, just for starters.

We figure it’s best to dive straight in, and get hands-on while you get your head around these different construction techniques. Here’s some photos from our last Natural Building course, with a big crew of students doing just that… Continue reading

Building a Portable Reciprocal Roundhouse Frame


On our last Natural Building course, we built a portable reciprocal roundhouse frame. Beauty meets strength meets simplicity.

Using sapling logs (though you can use bamboo instead, or framing timber, at a pinch) plus ropes and screws, this structure went up fast and is a great foundation for all sorts of projects.  Continue reading

Making a DIY Earthen Floor: two methods


After completing the strawbale walls and the roundwood, reciprocal roof of the Milkwood Roundhouse, we wanted a gorgeous floor to complete this hand-crafted natural building. So an earthen floor was a natural choice.

There’s not much easily accessible info out there on how to make your own earth floor, however. So we’d like to share what we learned with you…  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: making a Living Roof

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The final stage of building the roof of our roundhouse was to transform it into a garden.

Living roofs can help insulate the building below, provide pollination sources for surrounding wildlife and help the building blend into the landscape.

However, this roof is far from flat. It’s made on a reciprocal frame, to create great strength for the roof without needing central posts. So a sloping garden in the round was the aim. It turned out beautifully, and we learned a lot in the process  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: making a Reciprocal Roof

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Reciprocal roof frames are self-supporting structures that date back to the 12th Century. They are used in Chinese and Japanese architecture, as well as being something that Leonardo Da Vinci explored in detail.

The interlocking nature of the separate members creates a complimentary tension that, ultimately, results in an extremely strong, self-supporting roof.

The theory of it is surprisingly easy to follow, once you understand what’s going on. And so a reciprocal roof seemed the perfect choice for our recent experimental strawbale roundhouse that we built at Milkwood Farm…  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: foundations and walls

Ta da!

A few months ago we raised a strawbale roundhouse with a reciprocal roof as part of our first Natural Building Workshop at Milkwood Farm.

Now that we’re nearing the end of this build, I thought I’d step you through the process of raising this experimental building piece by piece. And as with all projects, the foundations came first. So let’s start there, shall we?  Continue reading

Roundhouse build update – the roof is on!

The ceiling from the outside - every piece fitted to the curve. Not that tricky once you get the hang of it...

Following on from raising the walls of this roundhouse in four days, Floyd and Shane have been focussed on getting this little place finished before Winter. And yep, we’ve all noticed the speed at which things progress when you go from a crew of twenty four to a crew of two!

Mind you, once the walls were up and the bones of the roof were on, this natural building project was firmly into the ‘fiddly bits’ part of the build. So perhaps it’s just as well there were 2 and not 20 people working on it. But we’re getting there now! Progress shots below…  Continue reading

Raising a home in four days flat at Milkwood Farm


Last week we built a home. A round, load-bearing strawbale tiny house with a roundwood reciprocating living roof, to be precise. And when I say ‘built’ I suppose I mean that we got it mostly done. It was amazing to be a part of.

I’m going to go into the construction of this building piece by piece, but for this weekend, here’s an overview of the process from bare ground to where we got to, 4 days later…  Continue reading

A visit to Melliodora with David Holmgren

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Recently Nick was lucky enough to hang out with David Holmgren for a couple of days at Melliodora, the superb small-acre permaculture site that David has established with his partner Su Dennett  in Hepburn Springs, Victoria.

Being in the thick of a super-productive, comfortable and energy efficient permaculture system at harvest time was inspiring, to say the least. To add to that, the purpose of the visit was for Dave Jacke to spend time with David and Su while he was in Australia. You can imagine the intensely wonderful conversations that went down!  Continue reading


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