Six natural homes without corners... natural building at its best.

 
   
 
 

This is one of the homes in Matavenero ecoVillage in León, an isolated mountainous region of North West Spain. The village was abandoned but repopulated in 1989 by an international mix of people who wanted to live closer to the land. Unlike other occupied villages (pueblos okupados) in Spain the group managed to get permission from the local authority to resettle the village.
 
   
   

   
       
   
 
 

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. The roof of Elaman Puu is made from a ring of roundwood timbers interlocking and supporting one another. Heidi made a clay model (video right) to help visualise her design.


 
  Heidi Vilkman's Earth Tree Home  
 

Heidi's Clay Model

 

   
       
   
 
 

These are choom in the frozen marshlands of the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia, Russia. The choom, home to the nomadic Nenet, uses reindeer hides wrapped around wooden poles. During periods of migration chooms are moved every other day. Choom sites are chosen based on pasture and ground quality with a water source nearby. After checking the vegetation on a choom site the Brigadier pushes his reindeer driving stick, called a khorei, into the ground where he wants the centre of the choom to be.
 

  Life in Russia's Arctic region of Nenets  

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Bill Coperthwaite doesnít have email, doesnít have a phone, and lives in the Maine woods a few miles from the nearest roads. Bill recognized the folk genius in the design of the traditional Mongolian yurt. He found in the yurt both a rich potential for creative design and an opportunity for developing a simple dwelling that people could build themselves. Bill designed the tapered-wall wooden yurt to enable people to create their own home using a design that reduces building skills to a minimum but still producing a beautiful, inexpensive and permanent shelter.

These days Bill conducts workshops, sells yurt plans, designs and consults on yurt projects, and continues his search for ways to simplify life in the 21st century. Billís book: A Hand Made Life.

 
  Bill Coperthwaite: The three storey wooden yurt  

   
       
   
   
 

The Hogan at Cae Mabon in Wales, built in 1999 by Eric Maddern and Martin Start, was inspired by the Navaho tribes of Utah and Arizona. Hogan are octagonal structures with log walls and a corbelled roof with a smoke hole. This Hogan however has straw bale walls rendered with lime plaster and a reciprocal roof. Cae Mabon's Hogan is hidden away in the woods giving it a special stillness. It is used as a meditation room and a place to sleep for four people.
 

   
 

Cae Mabon
by Living in the Future

 
   
       
   
         

 

Tony Wrench talks about sustainable living and gives a tour of his beautiful roundhouse in Wales. The world of natural building has a lot to thank Tony for. His tenacity has helped other people, communities and organisations live sustainably not least Lammas.

For a long time the location of Tony's house was a well kept secret.
 

  Tony Wrench: Cordwood Roundhouse in Wales  
   
       
   
 
 

This is Benji who lives in Campagne, Aquitaine, France at La Sorga ecoVillage with a very creative group of people. Four minutes in to the video right you will see an impressive roundwood geodesic dome; at 15:50 the frame of a hand crafted Philibert de l'Orme roof and at 19:15 horse logging.

Benji used two layers of old pullovers [cardigans, jumpers] soaked in a milky solution of lime over a lattice of woven branches. The outside layer is a mixture of lime, clay and sand. The final coat is lime, black soap and linseed oil.

The inside of the tiny home (below) is plastered with earth, straw and horse manure. The manure does not smell and helps prevent the earthen plaster from cracking.

   
       
   
     
 

This is one of the many tiny hemp and lime bubble shelters designed and built by Evelyne Adam of Kerterre. After making a simple geodesic type timber frame, hemp or straw is coated in a lime and sand mixture and moulded onto the frame leaving plenty of scope for artistic creativity. A small team can build a bubble shelter in about two weeks.

The smallest of these tiny homes can cost as little as 500 Euro ($520). In fact a home like this could last a decade if the lime shell is thick enough and correctly mixed. Evelyne's own bubble shelter is seven years old and holding up well. Evelyne is looking for volunteers to help build seventeen more bubble homes all over France between April and October 2015, details here (in French).

   
       
   
         
 
   

In 2011 Atulyak Bingham found herself living alone in a tent on her land in the Turkish hills. There was no power or running water. She lives completely off-grid. Water was her biggest challenge but by using every surface to harvest rain she has a reservoir of over 10,000 litres.

Atulyak's earthbag home took six weeks to build and cost about €4,500 (5,000 USD) to make. Nearly all that money went on labour, the roof rafters and her beautiful juniper floorboards.