Planning Your Dream Natural Building Home Workshop, Spain

Earth, Hands and Houses Straw Bale Workshop Leader, Paulina Wojciechowska

Building with earth: Paulina and her passion…

People having fun at a Clay Plastering Workshop run by Earth, Hands and Houses.

Workshops are always lots of fun!

A six day workshop on planning your dream natural home

Monday 25th April – Sunday 1st May 2016.
(with one rest day in the middle)

Set in a beautiful olive grove in the rugged mountains near Tarbena in the Costa Blanca region of Spain.

Taught by architect and earthbag author Paulina Wojciechowska, and Antony Dennis.

This workshop is a combination of lots of hands on experience combined with lectures and discussion to help you plan your dream home made from natural materials.

Paulina has designed a dream home which will be built from natural materials at a site in England over the next two years, and the design will be used as a real-life example to illustrate the ideas presented in the workshop.

What You Will Learn

The workshop covers all areas of planning your home, from choosing a site, through planning the design, to an awareness of what is involved in all aspects of the build so you can plan what you can do and what will require the help of others.

The workshop is 50% presentation and discussion, and 50% hands-on practical work.

The topic areas covered are:

An in-depth look at the issues in planning the design of your natural home, including:

  • Choosing your site
  • Preparation of a site plan
  • Dealing with the site’s characteristics such as earth types, ground topology, etc.
  • Creating a house design to suite your lifestyle
  • The balance of costs: money, time, quality.
  • How to find your balance point and cost your project in a realistic way
  • Working with architects, builders and volunteers
  • Fitting the project into your life.
  • A design example: the amazing 5 bedroom house being built at Oaklands Farm, England

Technologies choices for the house structure:

  • Foundations: types of foundations, pros and cons, which to use in different site situations, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Roof structures: types of roofs, pros and cons, how to choose the best roof structure for your project, relative costs and effort involved.
  • Insulation: a discussion of different solutions and their relative effectiveness.
  • Walls: an overview of natural building wall technologies: straw bale, cordwood, earthbag, cob, rammed earth, old tyres.
  • Floors: an overview of the different technologies, their pros and cons.
  • Guidelines for designing wall structures using different technologies.
  • Balancing your idealogical ideas with your building inspector’s logical, legal ones.
  • Hands-on experience:  building wall structures from earthbags and straw bales.

An overview of planning and installing services, with an emphasis on specific considerations for houses built from natural materials:

  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Heating systems.
  • Waste water drainage systems
  • Rainwater drainage systems
  • Internal shelving and structures.

Review and Presentation of up to Three Design Plans
Many people come to our workshops with plans and ideas for their house and site design. We will select up to three design ideas from participants to be reviewed by Paulina during the workshop and presented to the group on the last day for further discussion. Many of our attendees have specialist knowledge on particular areas of design, construction or permaculture, and it can be a valuable experience to share that knowledge. Please let us know with your workshop application if you would like your design ideas to be reviewed and presented.

Hands-on Experience – 50% of Workshop Time

This would be a very boring workshop if it were all lectures – and you would never be able to retain and use all the details. This workshop will be around 50% hands-on, based around the building aspects of a natural home. The hands-on work will be a brief introduction to the technologies involved, and will include:

  • Constructing foundations.
  • Building with earthbags.
  • Building with straw bales.
  • Working with electrical wiring, sockets and lights.
  • Working with plumbing and waste water parts.

Book Your Place

The price of the six day workshop is 450€ per person, or a discounted price of 395€ is available if booked by 1st March 2016.

Note that immediately after this workshop, we will run 4 other workshops covering building with earthbags, building with straw bales, building a natural floor, and a final workshop combining natural building with meditation, yoga, dance and sensuality.

Numbers on the workshop will be limited to ensure a good learning experience, and we are expecting the allocated places to fill up before the workshop begins.

Children from the age of 8 are welcome to accompany their parent(s) and may participate in parts of the workshop as they wish. No charges are made for children under the age of 18 years.

To book your place:

email info@EarthHandsAndHouses.org or
call Antony on (+44) 7812 070413.

About your Workshop Leader

The workshop will be lead by Earth, Hands and Houses founder Paulina Wojciechowska, a qualified architect who has over 18 years of experience building with straw bales and  earthbags in communities all around the world.

Paulina worked alongside Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth in 1996 and is the author of “Building with Earth”, one of the leading earthbag construction books. She also worked with leading straw bale and clay plaster veterans Bill and Athena Steen in 1997-8 and has been involved in running straw bale and earthbag workshops and designing and building straw bale structures since then. Click here to hear Paulina talk about her experiences.

Food, Location, Accommodation

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free food will be available at an additional cost, payable upon arrival. The food will comprise a self service breakfast, full cooked lunchtime meal, and a light supper.

The workshop will be held in an olive grove, 2km south of the village of Tarbena. You may camp within the olive grove for free.

Click here for more details of the camping facilities, maps, travel information and other accommodation available.

Please note that consumption of alcohol and smoking on the site are not allowed.

Workshop Timing

The workshop will run the following times:

Day 1: from 10:00 to 18:00. You are welcome to arrive on the afternoon of the day before to set up camp and settle in before the workshop begins.

Days 2-3: from 09:00 to 17:00.

Day 4 is a rest day, but you will be welcome to use the time to work on your own design projects or experiment with natural building techniques that are of interest to you on the workshop site.

Days 5-7: from 09:00 to 17:00. If you are camping, you are welcome to stay on for one or two more days if you wish.

But there is more…

This will be more than just a natural building workshop – it will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy learning and relaxing amongst like minded people, some who may become your friends for life!

Learn more…

Hear Paulina talk about her experience and vision for Earth, Hands and Houses:

Watch people’s experience of an Earth, Hands and Houses straw bale and clay plastering workshop: