"Natural building" is an umbrella term than connotes any sort of building that is accomplished with the use of natural materials primarily, as opposed to the use of man-made or industrial materials. There is, of course, a blurring of this distinction when any specific material or building technique is examined, because the influence of technology is all-pervasive in today's world. Still, it is worthwhile to focus on those ways of building that minimize the use of products that require considerable embodied energy for their manufacture or transportation. The objective is to build with simple techniques that don't further pollute the environment, consume more fossil fuel, or unnecessarily extract the resources of Mother Earth. Such techniques, by their very nature, have an aesthetic value that tends to blend in with the environment and "feel" natural.
The categories listed on the navigation bar on the left represent some of the materials and building concepts that I am familiar with. The list does not necessarily represent everything that might appropriately belong there. Please contact me if you know of some way of building that you think should be included here.
A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture. This two-hour DVD, produced by Kelly Hart, provides an overview of sustainable building concepts. You can enjoy a look at a fascinating variety of homes and the creative people who built them! Discover how passive solar design and environmentally low-impact materials can be used to create comfortable and economical homes. See the use of both traditional materials, such as adobe, and innovative materials, such as papercrete and earthbags.
This program offers a wealth of information about construction details and other considerations. It covers adobe block construction, piled adobe (similar to cob), rammed earth, both load-bearing and post and beam strawbale, earthships, earth-sheltering, cordwood, thin-shelled concrete domes, papercrete, earthbags, hybrid structures, and recycling various containers for housing.
The books shown below are arranged according to when they were published, with the most recent ones at the top. If you click on one of the images you will be taken to a page at Amazon.com where you can find out more about the book. If you end up buying one of them, greenhomebuilding.com will receive a small commission that will help cover the cost of maintaining this website. Thanks for your patronage.
This is a 2 bedroom, 1 story, 1725 sf (to the outside) house that is designed around the traditional hogan concept of Southwestern native Americans. It would be dug into a hillside, or bermed substantially on the north side. A large south-facing living area with a vaulted cieling provides passive solar heating for much of the house. The bedrooms, bathroom, pantry and kitchen surround the traditional octagonal shape. This was originally designed for the Sacred Mountains Foundation as a demonstration home for a variety of natural building techniques, so that it employs cordwood, strawbale, adobe, rock, earthbag, and timber-frame aspects. The southern elevation shown here would be post and beam with cordwood infill. There is a unique central fire place, open 360 degrees, for back-up heat and ceremonial purposes. The large core room could accomodate large groups, or be utilized in many ways.
Traditionally, the native Americans enter their abodes from the east, so this where the airlock entry is situated. This large space can also serve as a closet and storage room. The large octagonal room is undifferentiated, but would serve as living, dining and ceremonial space. To the west is the master bedroom, with adjacent bathroom. To the left of the kitchen alcove is a large pantry that would be naturally cooled by its substantial earth berm. A second bedroom or studio faces the northeast. A large fenced courtyard area to the south provides privacy and wind protection.
For more information about this plan, and many others, visit our sister site www.dreamgreenhomes.com, where you will find a wide range of plans for sustainable homes, greenhouses, small buildings, garages, and food storage space for sale. Dream Green Homes is a consortium of outstanding architects and designers, who have pooled their talent and expertise for your benefit.