Natural Building, inspired by nature


Natural builders have been inspired by nature to create some extraordinary public natural buildings and homes all over the world.

These homes have all been inspired by natural structures from the forest fir cones of Span to the chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly in New Zealand.

To learn more about natural building, join our Facebook group Talking Natural Homes where you will find thousands of knowledgeable posts from experienced natural builders all over the world.


'Evolver' (above right) is a sculpture erected to view the panorama surrounding Zermatt, Switzerland. It was designed and built in wood by a team of 2nd year architecture students from the ALICE studio at EPFL in Lausanne. You can watch the whole design and build process in the video above and see more pictures on EVOLVER's project website.




Snail Cabin is a small Spanish house that was designed as a temporary home for a couple with two small children. Later it became a guest cabin after the main house was built. The cob cabin has stone foundations, load-bearing cob walls and a reciprocal frame roof. It cost around 6,000 Euro ($8,000) in materials in 2007.

Like its inspiration work went at a snailís pace, because about twenty tons of earth, wood, sand and stone was carried in barrows, buckets and on hard working backs.




The tiny house, called the Fibonacci Treehouse, is in Spain. It's 25m2 (270 ft.sq.) with a small kitchen and space for a bed and chairs. Once the frame of the house was made off-site it took a small team of builders about 8 weeks to construct. It's a bit of a kid's paradise with 40m (130 ft) of rope bridges and a 23m (75 ft) slide. The building, by Blue Forest, is made from sustainably managed forest timbers.



Poula-Line built her straw bale home in Fri & Fro (Free and Happy) ecoVillage in Egebjerg, Denmark. It's one of a collection of unique straw bale homes in the village. Her home was inspired by a conch shell (above) she found on a beach in Malaysia. Poula, lived in a tiny straw bale house on her land while she built her home. The structure of the home comes from its roundwood timber frame with a complex and very beautiful reciprocal roof with a seaweed cover like other Danish seaweed homes. Here's some more about Poula's straw bale house.


As testimony to the flexibility and strength of bamboo, these sea urchin shaped pods are the library and reception at Bambu Indah, John Hardy's hotel resort in Bali, Indonesia.

Bamboo is a grass that grows incredibly quickly. Bamboo has a higher tensile strength than many alloys of steel and a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete. Unlike wood bamboo has no knots allowing it to withstand more stress throughout the length of each stalk.

For a good overview of bamboo construction see INBAR's Bamboo in Construction (PDF 1.8Mb).


These are clay Obos of the Musgum people in Pouss, Cameroon. They are designed to provide efficient cooling in the baking heat with vents at the top of the building and small entrances with no windows. The high domes collect the hot air, moving it away from people sleeping at the bottom of the house keeping the interior around 75F (24C). This is an ancient design based on the catenary arch. Homes built in this way can be very slim and use a minimum of material.




This is the chrysalis of the Monarch butterfly know as the wanderer in New Zealand there this treehouse was inspired by its chrysalis. The walkway is built using redwood and the fins and slats are built from sustainably grown pine and poplar. The structural fins uses glulam (glued laminated timber) which is used as a sustainable replacement for steel.

The treehouse, a restaurant, was a marketing stunt by Yellow where all the parts and services to create the treehouse were found via yellow pages.




This is one of the bamboo classrooms at the Green School in Bali. The school is home to some wonderfully organic shapes all made from bamboo. As well as its natural buildings the school is 100% off-grid, powered by solar panels and a vortex generator that borrows water from the Ayung river.


This is the nautilus kindergarten in Lusan, Germany. The structure, inspired by the nautilus, is made from untreated wood with an infill of clay, old bricks, natural stones, sand and lime. The building uses straw, reed and cotton fibres for insulation. The basement gallery is built with de-barked tree trunks climbing to the ceiling. The nautilus contrasts the old concrete housing estate nearby where the children who attend the kindergarten live.