why rising earth?

The title of this blog draws from my time as an apprentice at the Cob Cottage Company in costal Oregon. If you spend time with natural building folk, you'll eventually find yourself around a fire, sing silly songs about cob and natural building. Folks usually refer to these oftentimes improvised tunes as "cobsongs". I often sang..."There is a house in old coquille, they call the rising earth, it's been the work of many hands, and you know what that's worth..."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pretty black for a green roof...

Green roofs are somewhat deceptive. The plants may be green, but under all that lush growth often lies a dead black petroleum based waterproof membrane. Some green roofs even have multiple layers of perforated polyethylene drainage mats, rigid foam sheets, root-barrier membrane...We didn't go so far, but we did get ourselves a nice fat EPDM sheet.

EPDM pond liners are commonly used as the water proof membrane in green roofs. They're pretty tough, but should be isolated from the roof deck and soil layer, to make sure they don't get punctured. We separated ours with layers of rigid foam insulation. The pond liner wraps up and over the 2x10 fascia to create an enclosed pan for the soil, which drains in the low spots via PVC shower pan drains.

The soil on the roof is the topsoil that used to live where the building is. In creating the pad and footing, we made sure to separate topsoil for the roof, and subsoil for cob. Check back this summer to see how things are growing up there.

Anatoly's cottage

Here is the entrance to Anatoly's cottage, currently under construction. The walls are built of cob and strawbale, and will be finished with clay and lime plasters. The building sits on a foundation of discarded rubble. We gathered concrete, stone, and brick from within a couple miles of the site for free. I was amazed at how easy it was. Maybe we got lucky, but Greg and I, each with a small truck, found all the rubble we needed in about one full  day of work.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rocket Stove

Watch this video of a super-efficient rocket stove we just built in our new cob cottage. Rocket stoves contain an internal heat riser that creates a very strong draft. Burning very hot and efficiently, they are capable of pushing hot exhaust through ducts in built in massive furniture and warming buildings directly.