Natural Building, designing for your climate.

 
   
 
 

There's something very magical about an igloo lit inside with candles at night. Even more so if the night sky dances with the colours of the aurora borealis.

This igloo is in Canada, built in the traditional Inuit way by cutting blocks from a wind packed snow drift with a saw. This arctic environment can kill a person quickly, which is why two experienced Inuit can build an igloo in about 30 minutes. In a storm this skill can mean the difference between life and death.

This video from the BBC gives you a closer look at how the skill of igloo building is passed down to the next generation.
 
  Apak Taqtu, a young Inuit boy, is taught how to build an igloo.  

   
           

Close fitting blocks of snow are cut to lean on each other in a spiral of decreasing diameter. Built correctly an igloo will support the weight of a person standing on the roof. Heat from a kudlik, the Inuit stone lamp, causes the interior of the dome to melt slightly.
 

 

The melting and refreezing builds up a layer of ice that helps to strength the igloo. With exterior temperatures of around -50C the interior is typically 2C; lined with animal skins the interior can be has high as 15C.

The igloo is perfectly designed for its environment using the natural materials available on site to create a shelter. Of course you would not attempt to build an igloo in the desert and similarly you would not build a desert home in the arctic and yet many designs, such as earthships and earthbag domes, are built in climates unsuited for them.

If you are building a natural home it is important that the design suits your climate. Your climate is one of the first questions a natural builder will discuss with you.