Steve Areen, a world traveler who has been visiting remote locations around the world, decided to put down a few roots in northeast Thailand. These roots grew into one of the most beautiful dome homes you may ever see. This work of art (that only cost $9,000 to build) sits in the middle of a mango farm that belongs to Steve’s friend Hajjar Gibran.
Hajjar had already been building dome homes at his retreat center on the farm and taught Steve how to build this cement block and clay brick home that uses local materials and lets in light and fresh air. Hajjar’s son, Lao, helped build the home with his masonry skills and the dome was completed in just over six weeks. Steve added his own details with the handmade front door, pond, upstairs hammock platform and the stonework and landscaping. Some of the most beautiful features of this home is the shower/greenhouse from local river stones and the natural bamboo sink faucet.
The home’s large, round windows are screened against insects and act as curved seating areas, and when Steve heads off to travel again, he seals up the round windows with rat proof inserts. A handmade wooden staircase ascends to the roof where a steel rod and palm frond covered hammock platform offers fresh air and views, and screened skylights on the domes let in even more light. Continue Reading »
I would like to wish all our North American readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day! I thought this house fit the mood of the day and I hope you enjoy it.
This is the Laughing House sculpted by Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans out of cob, clay, sand, and straw. Dug locally right from the ground. They live in the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest, so high thermal mass (non-insulating) walls work in their climate.
This photo is from their websitte: http://www.cobcottage.com/laughing-house
It’s estimated that half of the world’s population lives in earth buildings, but for many countries this type of architecture was until recently fairly rare. Now materials like rammed earth, cob, compressed earth and mud brick are experiencing a comeback.
A modern cob home- Cobtun House- in England won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ sustainability award and went on to sell for well over a million dollars (750,000 pounds). And cob is just a simple mix of clay and straw (though sand or some sort of grit is often used as well).
Cob is cheap- the walls of Cobtun House cost just 20,000 pounds- and infinitely recyclable. It’s also a very green building material for plenty of other reasons.
It’s a local material: the clay and sand are most often extracted from the property where the building is built. It’s energy efficient: cool in the summer, warm in the winter and fire-resistant. It’s efficient with space since cob buildings are smaller than the average American home.
A cob home is also a perfect DIY project since the materials can be mixed with your hands and feet and molded freeform- without support structures- to create a house (See books like The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage).
In this video, Margaret Krome-Lukens of North Carolina’s Pickard’s Mountain Eco-Institute shows us the cob home- refreshingly cool on a hot summer’s day- that interns Mike and Greg are building for her on the property. They talk about the horse manure used as an additive to the walls, how the material is so easy to sculpt, the green roof and living small. Since her new home is less than 150 square feet, Margaret talks about the joy of giving up stuff to move in.