Owner/
Builder

Cob

Cob is a very old method of building with earth and straw or other fibers. It is quite similar to adobe in that the basic mix of clay and sand is the same, but it usually has a higher percentage of long straw fibers mixed in. Instead of creating uniform blocks to build with, cob is normally applied by hand in large gobs (or cobs) which can be tossed from one person to another during the building process. The traditional way of mixing the clay/sand/straw is with the bare feet; for this reason, it is fairly labor intensive. Some of the process can be mechanized by using a backhoe to do the mixing, but that diminishes the organic nature of it. Because of all the straw, cob can be slightly more insulating than adobe, but it still would not make a very comfortable house in a climate of extreme temperatures. The wonderful thing about cob construction is that it can be a wildly freeform, sculptural affair. I've seen some very charming homes made this way. Cob was a common building material in England in the nineteenth century, and many of those buildings are still standing.

A variant of cob is what is commonly called "light straw/clay". This is made with the same long fibers of straw which is tossed like spagetti with a sauce of clay slip. The idea is to coat the straw fibers with enough of the clay to get them to stick together, but not so much that it makes a gummy clump. This material is then tamped into a form and left to set up enough to remove the form. Light straw walls could be useful for interior partitions and even exterior walls if it is thick enough. Such walls would be quite a bit more insulating than cob, but they require a timber frame of some sort because the straw itself would not be load bearing.

BOOKS
 

The Cob Web Archive
1995 - 2011

by Ianto Evans
and Michael G. Smith, 2013

 
 
 
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The Year of Mud
by Brian Ziggy Liloia, 2011

 
 
 
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Earth Architecture
by Ronald Rael, 2008

 
 
 
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Building With Cob:
A Step-by-step Guide

by Adam Weismann, Katy Bryce, 2006

   
 
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Building Green:
A Complete How-To Guide to
Alternative Building Methods
by Clarke Snell , Tim Callahan, 2006

 
 
 
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Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves YOU Can Build
by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson, 2006

 
 
 
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EcoNest:
Creating Sustainable Sanctuaries of Clay, Straw,
and Timber

by Paula Baker-Laporte, Robert Laporte, 2005

 
 
 
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The Good House Book:
A Common-Sense Guide to Alternative Homebuilding

by Clarke Snell, 2004

 
 
 
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Clay and Cob Buildings
by John McCann, 2004

   
 
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The Hand-Sculpted House:
A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building
a Cob Cottage

by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith, and Linda Smiley, 2002

   
 
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Build Your Own Earth Oven:
A Low-Cost, Wood-Fired Mud Oven; Simple Sourdough Bread; Perfect Loaves

by Kiko Denzer, 2000

 
 
 
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Earth Construction Handbook: The Building Material Earth in Modern Architecture
by Gernot Minke, 2000

 
 
 
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Building in Cob, Pise and Stabilized Earth
by Clough Williams-Ellis, 1999 Facsimile edition

   
 
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The Cob Builders Handbook: You Can Hand-Sculpt Your Own Home
by Becky Bee, 1998

   
 
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Building in Cob and Pisé
by Great Britain Building Research Board, pre-1923

 
 
 
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PLANS

Santa Fe IV
Sven Alstrom , Designer

This one story Santa Fe Style Guest House is based upon 24-inch wide straw bale construction or adobe block on concrete foundation & footings with crawl spaces, but would also work with cob. Natural interior plaster and natural exterior stucco are recommended. The house is 1,650 square feet gross (outside dimension) plus the courtyard & porch. The perimeter wall total of the 2 foot thick wall shown is approx. 169 sq, ft, Therefore, the net useable interior square footage is approximately 1,481 net square feet. Overall site plan dimensions shown are 43 feet wide x 50 feet deep outside courtyard wall to the front porch. This home was originally designed for a friend in Santa Fe, with the main entrance south facing, so that the kitchen is southeast for 'ayurvedic' benefits The south facing front porch provides summer shading. This home is designed for a hot climate.

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.

LINKS


GENERAL

cobcottage site for The Cob Cottage Company features information and resources about building with cob.

earthedworld.co.uk a fine, informative site about cob, listing workshops, forums, and an extensive photo gallery.

cobincornwall.com informative site with lots of pictures of various cob projects in Cornwall, England.

barefootbuilder.com has information about cob and sponsors cob workshops in Tennessee

edwardsecobuilding.com features information about cobbing, with photos, articles, courses, links, etc. in the UK.

EDUCATION

strawclaywood.com is Michael G. Smith's very informative ane inspirational site devoted to various natural building methods, including cob.

cobworkshops.org lists many workshops featuring cob in North America.

naturalhomes.org lists workshops from around the world related to cob.

earthedworld.co.uk a fine, informative site about cob, listing workshops, forums, and an extensive photo gallery.

cobworks.com information, photos, workshops related to cob.

spiralworks.com is devoted to sustainable community development, and specializes in teaching about cob on the East Coast.

housealive.org This site is mostly focused on cob, and offers information and workshops that "empowers people to build affordable homes that are responsible and beautiful through the use of natural design and building techniques."

barefootbuilder.com has information about cob and sponsors cob workshops in Tennessee

mudgirls.ca A women's cobbing cooperative in Canada that offers workshops, etc.

sourabh.tk This fun PDF shows how to mix and apply cob with simple text and illustrations.

sourabh.tk This PDF shows how to make wattle and daub construction in a fun and effective manner.

buildsimple.org Building with Hyper-Wattle is a PDF showing how to build structures using straw, mesh bags, and clay.

DISCUSSION

coblist email discussion group about cob.

cobprojects.info join a cob forum or browse lots of pictures and sites devoted to cob projects.

cobbuildersforum.com this forum specific to cob building also has a picture gallery, videos, and workshops listed.

PHOTO GALLERIES

davidsheen.com features a wonderful collection of pictures of earthen sturctures from around the world. (If Firefox doesn't work, try another browser.)

daycreek.com page of photos and description of cob.

cobincornwall.com informative site with lots of pictures of various cob projects in Cornwall, England.

cobprojects.info join a cob forum or browse lots of pictures and sites devoted to cob projects.

ilovecob.com This blog-style site has assembled lots of images of natural building projects, commentary about them, links to related sites, and even video via YouTube that tours a lovely cob creation.

cobtogether.com some nice pictures of cobworks.

earthenhand.com has a nice gallery of various cob work by Scott Howard.

designboom.com describes some beautiful cob domed buildings from the Masgum in the Camaroon.

MEDIA

countrysidemag.com another article that references the cob house from above.

small-scale.net/yearofmud is a very nice blog about buiilding a cob house at Dancing Rabbit ecovillage in Missouri.

buildsimple.org describes with video and illustrated text how Patti Stouter builds with "hyper wattle," a combination of mesh tubes stuffed with light straw clay to form light-weight, insulated, inexpensive walls.

Disclaimer Of Liability And Warranty
I specifically disclaim any warranty, either expressed or implied, concerning the information on these pages. Neither I nor any of the advisor/consultants associated with this site will have liability for loss, damage, or injury, resulting from the use of any information found on this, or any other page at this site. Kelly Hart, Hartworks, Inc.

 

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