Heidi's Natural Home in Southern Finland.


This is Heidi's cottage, 'Elaman Puu', which means Tree of Life. It's built with a variety of natural building techniques with a rubble trench, earthbag stem walls dressed in stone, birch bark damp-proof membrane beneath the straw bales on the northern walls with cob and cordwood to the south and a reciprocal roof on a roundwood frame. All of the materials were harvested locally.


Heidi began her natural building journey by investigating what natural materials were available on the land where she wanted to build her tiny house. Set in the forests of southern Finland the choice of roundwood timbers with a reciprocal roof was easy and obvious. Heidi also dug several pits on the land to search out the clay she would later use to plaster the interior of the home.

Heidi is an accomplished artist. Having a place that reflected her spirit and values was important to her. With the materials she had decided to use in mind, she started to design her home giving it all the care and attention she gives the art she creates for her customers which you can see below from her online shop.

  Heidi Vilkman's Earth Tree Home  

Heidi's Clay Model


Below is one of the many sketches Heidi made to visualise the place she wanted to build for herself and her son. Eventually she used clay to create a model of the home (video above right)

Clay model of natural home   Pencil sketch of natural home  

Birch bark for the damp proof course


Roundwood for the reciprocal roof

Birch bark  

Heidi didn't want to pour concrete on what she sees as her sacred space where she grew up as a child. She tarred the heavy logs for the cabin and stood them onto a compacted gravel base. More gravel was spread over the base and compacted, burying and securing the logs.


Heidi tarring the logs to protect against water


An earthbag stem wall was then built around the timbers of the roundhouse with a layer of birch bark acting as a waterproof membrane between the earthbags and the straw bale, cob and cordwood walls. Heidi then dressed the earthbag stem wall with stones to act as protection from rain splashing against the house.

  Heidi carrying roundwood  

Earthbag and cordwood walls


The dragon sleeping by the cob oven

Earthbag and cordwood walls in natural home  

The roof of 'Elaman Puu' is made from a ring of roundwood timbers interlocking and supporting one another. This self supporting roof is called a reciprocal roof. The design leaves a circular hole in the roof that forms a skylight bringing light directly into the heart of Heidi's natural home.

  Roundwood frame with reciprocal roof  

The roundwood reciprocal roof


The home is festooned with artistic expression, a dance between natural building techniques like cordwood, natural round timbers, clay pargeting and Heidi's own artwork, like this beautiful coloured etched glass window.

  Clay dragon  

Heidi Vilkman


There are still plenty of jobs to do before the tiny home is complete. You can follow Heidi's story in her blog and facebook group as she continues to work on 'Elaman Puu'.

When Heidi is not building her home she runs Heidi Made selling a wonderful mixture of her art, jewellery, wood carvings and ceramics.


Heidi's own etched glass design