Coming summer 2016…
A one-of-a-kind structure infused with art, function, community and resourcefulness! You are going to want to be a part of this! We are looking for work teams, team leaders, artists, living roof enthusiasts, help with collecting materials and more roles yet to be determined! Fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page to indicate how you would like to be involved.
How the idea came to be
In 2015, we were given a hand-me-down playhouse. We have lots of kids join our workdays, and they immediately took to the little house and spent hours cooking up all sorts of good imaginative play. After every workday, I would find their creations of sand, flower petals, wood chips and leaves. Often times, I would even be served such creations mid-workday! The kids were happily engaged in their “work”, allowing us adults to be engaged in ours.
But the high winds of last winter took their toll on the already worn playhouse, and in a scene reminiscent of the Three Little Pigs, the wind huffed and puffed and blew our house down.
We love having kids join us in the garden! Even if their attention span is short, even if just for a visit, giving them a chance to experience nature as well as exposing them to where food comes from is a huge part of our educational mission. For that reason, we wasted no delay in brainstorming playhouse replacement options. Keeping with the sustainability theme, I (Alicia) contacted Pete Poli, a friend who had recently built a treehouse from natural building materials and has attended workshops at Cob Cottage Company, to discuss some building options. Pete and I have been pulling together our ideas and coming up with a design that will showcase some different building techniques for a unique community
barn playhouse raising project.
Some Inspiring Examples
A slightly sloping flat roof to accommodate a living roof made of plants! While the roof will be lower than normal height to make it kid-sized, the structure will have an open feel and access to allow adults an escape from the sun (or rain!)
Part clay, part sand and straw mixed together on a tarp to form a material called cob that is moldable for building but dries to a material as nearly as hard as concrete.
The building process. A stone foundation protects the base from moisture (and a roof with a large overhand protects the sides from rain). The walls are built by adding the cob mixture in small amounts and packing it in a way that causes the fibers of the straw to intertwine with previously applied cob. The walls will need time to dry between workdays.
The walls could be somewhat plain and look a little like adobe.
Or you can go all out and use your structure to express your creativity! You can build some mighty beautiful structures with cob! Take a look at the designs added post-construction to this little cottage!
Whoa. Can you imagine living in this work of art?
This wall is built with cordwood (or firewood as the rest of us know it). Certain types of wood work better for this, and it’s important to dry the wood to get the right moisture level for the species of wood. Mortar is used between the cordwood to form an incredibly strong wall. Cob can also be used in place of mortar if the foundation is considered appropriately to keep the cob dry.
Embedded glass bottles let light in the space in an attractive, unique way. Also notice the built-in bench made from a stone base topped with cob.
Want to be a part of this project?