Tag Archives: Natural Building

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

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

Building our first roundhouse

milkwood roundhouse 01

Reciprocating roof roundhouses are pretty darn cool. They look gorgeous and they are a very good way to quickly make a strong structure with simple, available materials, the right knowledge and a bunch of willing hands.

We’ve been researching reciprocating roof structures, but hadn’t as yet had a chance to build one. Luckily Harris has been champing at the bit to get a roundhouse up since attending a workshop on them in New Zealand. This last week became the window of opportunity… Continue reading

Earthbag dome: getting it done…

The deal with Rose the permachef returning to Milkwood Farm this Spring is this: apon her return (which is imminent) she will move into the completed (ok nearly) earthbag dome, ensuring her personal seclusion and wood-fired comfort for the coming season.

The earthbag dome, while awesome, has been somewhat of a side-project since the first big gush of effort dedicated to its bag-raising (if that is a term) in Feb 2011. But now it’s time to get it done.

Partly because done is the engine of more, and partly because we want Rose to have a cosy haven after a big day of cookery. Nearly there now….

Continue reading

New book: Tiny Homes, simple shelter by Lloyd Kahn

This is my favorite tinyhouse book that the moment. Even in the age of instant access to a gazillion glossy photos of natural building, tinyhouses and all the rest, this publication stands apart as a book worth having, because of its composition and its coming together of so many different strands of knowledge and knowing.

It’s written by one of the great publishers of natural building, Lloyd Kahn, who back in 1973 wrote the seminal Shelter, a user-friendly overview of traditional building techniques from across the globe. Tiny Homes is both a progression of that book, but also an important book for where natural building is at, right now. Continue reading

Building a Yurt from Scratch: Resources

Yurts (and more interestingly to us, Gers) are front and center on the Milkwood research table currently. We’ve identified these structures as a likely cost-effective, climate-appropriate solution for our coming need for weatherproof, windproof, cosy crew-space come Spring at the Farm.

While there’s many solutions to easily yurt oneself if you have a reasonable budget ($8-$10,000), we need to find a solution more in the DIY realm. So we have searched far and wide, and here’s what we’ve come up with in terms of build-it-yourself-from-scratch Yurt and Ger resources. Continue reading

Reciprocal Roof Research

Welcome to Winter, everyone! Winter at Milkwood Farm is research time (in addition to winter farm chores) and currently we’re nutting out how to create super affordable, warm and not necessarily permanent housings for our crew come Springtime.

We’ve been mulling over yurts primarily, but recently, the beauty and economy of reciprocating roof roundhouses are got us thinking about hybrid natural building projects that we could realize next season. There’s a lot to love in these constructions… Continue reading

Dave and Phoebe’s DIY Yurt

Over the Easter weekend we had a little shindig at Milkwood Farm, with camping and artists and lots of food. Dave and Phoebe brought their yurt, which they made themselves, from scratch, for under $2,000. It was an amazing and a beautiful thing.

‘Oh yes’, i thought, when Dave said they were bringing it… ‘I know all about yurts – hole in the roof, concertina walls, all that’. But actually I had no idea just how gorgeous in it’s simplicity and elegance of design a hand-crafted, DIY yurt could be… Continue reading

Rendering our Earthbag dome… first coat (bring on the cow poo)

While I have heard from multiple sources that cow poo is a fine and admirable structural component for cob render mix, I never thought we’d try it.

But thanks to Harris, we have finally given the Earthbag dome we started building in February 2011 it’s first complete outer render, featuring mud, sand, silt and cow poo. And it seems to be working! Continue reading

Earthship Sydney Talk Resources

It was entirely incredible to welcome 400 folks into an auditorium to hear Michael Reynolds talk Earthships in Sydney recently. Thanks to everyone that came – what a night!

Regardless of whether you have inclinations to take on an earthship building project or not, I think this evening was really valuable to lots of people. Mostly because it got a large number of people thinking and talking about resilience and what the future of sustainable building might look like… Continue reading


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