1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

A dream house in crisis times… and forever! March 22, 2009

Today when to get a bank loan for a house seems to be almost unreal, it is good to know about other possibilities of building one`s own house with little money and much fun. A dream? Interestingly, no!

Apparently the best houses existed long ago, but along with industrialisation we lost this possibility to live in homes that would really make our life both comfortable and naturally enjoyable.

Let`s think why do we build square houses? A square form does not exist in the nature and in fact everybody hates corners 🙂 Normally people try to put a plant or a piece of furniture in the corner in order to “round ” the place. You may suggest that obviously to built a square house is technically much easier than any other form. But this is not true!! Just see what a wonder exists on this Earth and that already for a long time:

A Cob House

What is cob? Cob is a building material composed of clay, sand, and straw. Cob has been a traditional building process for millennia, even in rainy and windy climates like the British Isles, where many cob buildings still serve as family homes after hundreds of years. Many old cob buildings can be found in Africa, the Middle East, Wales, Devon, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany and some parts of the eastern United States.

A Cob Cottage might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure attuned to its surroundings  like “an ecstatic house”. Cob (the word comes from an Old English root, meaning “lump”) is a mixture of non-toxic, recyclable, and often free materials. Building with cob requires no forms, no cement, and no machinery of any kind.

Isn`t is lovely? I would immediately move in!

What fascinates me about cob houses:

  • Cob is very durable and requires little upkeep. They say: “It won’t burn, bugs won’t eat it, and it’s dirt cheap.” Additionally, it’s non-toxic, creates no waste, and requires minimal tools to construct.
  •  cob building is not about mud huts and primitivity. It is sophisticated technology to break free of the financial trap and general insanity of today’s wasteful McHouses.
  • Builders sculpt their structures by hand: 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.


  • It is amazing that literary everyone can built such a  house, with very little training  – and even children and elderly people can contribute as no heavy work is involved! The traditional way of mixing the clay/sand/straw is with the bare feet; for this reason, it is fairly labor intensive.
  • The building process is very meditative and working with clay has a healing effect (people report getting cured from allergies only by working on such a house because of such clay-therapy)
  • Apparently a small house can be built within one year at a coast of 5.000  (!) Dollars.

What I like the most about this idea is not only the natural origin and look of it, but also the possibility to create some rounded  furniture with my own hands! -it  feels expremely cosy and cute:

Another great point is that cob houses are not only compatible with their surroundings, they are their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. They are full of light, energy-efficient, and cozy, with curved walls and built-in, whimsical touches.

Those who know me and my sophisiticated lifestyle will probably hardly belive I would go for building a cob house with my own hands, but I really would! I would probably decorate it in oriental/fairy style, and make a small design-wonder out of it…  But I will definetely built one, together with my family. And then … everyone`s invited! 🙂

And seriously, if things will get worse with that crisis, the idea of a cob house will apprear as a healthy and probably the only alternative!

Here are some good links to get inspired:


Cob photo galery

Cob FAQs

Amazing cob house in pink!

 Cob projects

Resources for natural building



33 Responses to “A dream house in crisis times… and forever!”

  1. volodimir108 Says:

    The best things are usually the simpliest ones 🙂

  2. What a lovely house in the woods! I would love to live in such a beautiful setting rather than in a structure set in a polluted and congested concrete jungle.

    But, Axinia, if one builds such lovely houses with a little of own’s own money and labour, then that would mean that the usurious money-lenders would go out of business. Do you think they would allow everyone to do that?

    Then how can the usurers turn people into debt slaves? The idea is to force ordinary people to borrow more and more money at nauseatingly usurious rates of interest in the form of home loans, car loans, consumer loans, student loans, credit cards etc. so that poor folks will have to toil away all their lives to repay these loans and their crushing, exponentially increasing compounded interest rates. When the artificially inflated bubble economy explodes, everything is foreclosed, repossessed or “refinanced” (reloaned at even higher interest rates). But who gets the bailouts? It’s the usurers and the speculators, of course! And that too with taxpayer money! So, not only are they made homeless and jobless, they (and their children and their grandchildren and their great grandchildren…) are made to pick up the losses of the bankster criminals in the form of future taxes and/or inflation/hyperinflation. The debt trap is a death trap to enslave millions of people and entire countries for generations.

    • axinia Says:

      RAj, you are absolutely right, saying that “that would mean that the usurious money-lenders would go out of business.” – it is the point here! Because a “normal” house would const in Austria from 200.000 Euros for which you have to take a bank loan AND build acording to their guidelines, using recommended companies.
      Like the author of the cob houses says..”we work hard doing jobs we hate to pay loans for houses we dont like”. How true…

      yes, it is all about THE SYSTEM.

      • I’m shocked 😯 at the malpractices of Austrian banks, Axinia. Why are the Austrian banksters in cahoots with the crooked construction industry? You take a loan for 2 lakh EUR (nearly 1.4 crore INR) with usurious compounded interest rates and they still dictate terms to you like choosing the builder? They are incorrigbly corrupt then!

        The entire “international financial system” is a big fraud! The whole system of fiat currency, especially the American “Federal Reserve” and other big banksters and their corrupt political and bureacratic cronies in different governments are running a gigantic ponzi scheme to loot the hardworking taxpayers. Shame on the crooks!

        A Franco-American economist named Eric deCarbonnel has a great blog http://www.marketskeptics.com/ that provides complete information about this engineered “financial crisis” and he explains everything in a manner that even a layman (like me) can easily understand. With the way the crooked banksters are printing money out of thin air to bailout their cronies, he predicts hyperinflation that is going to hit the unsuspecting public like a tsunami, like the situation in Zimbabwe or the Weimar German Republic or collapsing Yugoslavia 😦

  3. radha Says:

    i d lov to know what Hong Kong architects think about it

    • axinia Says:

      yea, for some counties it might be a problem 🙂 But some have more than enough space!

      BTW I guess architects will generally never appreciate this kind of building because if veryone builds this way they will becomen jobless 🙂

  4. Barkri Says:

    Retirement. Florida. Golf. Boredom. What do these terms have in common? Not much, according to a mountain of recent studies of the lifestyles and demographics of aging baby-boomers. Today’s “empty-nesters” are a more diverse group then ever before, taking advantage of their newly found free time and discretionary income. They’re changing the way we think about the second half of life, living out their dreams and fulfilling life goals.

    The notion that life after the children leave necessarily means loneliness and boredom has been swept away. That myth, it seems, grew from 1960s research on women being treated for depression, according to My Turn, a 1997 book by author Patricia Gottlieb Shapiro. Shapiro researched the lives of 45 women whose children had “left the nest” and discovered that most felt a sense of relief and freedom. Other scientific studies have found similar results.

  5. Molly Says:

    I want to live in that first cob house. Where is it?

    • axinia Says:

      I dont know 😦 But all such houses I built by people themselves, it suggest you to check the links I ahve given below the post, there are some good examples and stories there!!

  6. The best reply to all those bankers would be to own a piece of land in the middle of a busy road like MG road and build a house like that amidst the concrete jungle around. And also make it spacious surrounded with greenery. And then enjoy looking at people who would be staring at it for a long time. A nice way to retire, what say you?

    Destination Infinity

    • axinia Says:

      not only to retire 🙂 I am actually going to live that soon!

      • Do it Axinia. Do it right in the middle of Vienna. If possible, have a retreat house like that in Frankfurt too 🙂

        Destination Infinity

        • axinia Says:

          the only problem is that I may not want to do it in the middle of Vienna 🙂 I am not sure I could buy some land in there 🙂

          Apart from that – what is the most important in that case – I still have to find out if the authoritied will really allow me to build such a house because there are strickt guidelines in this country…
          By now I have never heard of someone building houses like that in Austria – and that is very surprising for Austiran are quite mad about all natural stuff (bio-lifestyle so tu say)! It looks like the building industry is too mighty even here…

  7. swaps Says:

    This is your dream house?? I am very impressed Axinia 🙂

  8. Wortman Says:

    melde mich zurück. umzug hat super geklappt 🙂

  9. radha Says:

    to be watched on full screen – building with the hands ~all digital fun

  10. Jagdish Keshav Says:

    Wow is the reaction I have to this wonderful concept of Cob-House. I wish this method or procedure can be taken up as a Movement where housing is in perpetual short supply for the needy. It seems very affordable and of strong character !
    Seriously it can solve many a problem the world faces.
    And Axinia you have created a wonderful space here in the name of blog-space. My best wishes to you.
    It is my first time here !

    • axinia Says:

      Thank you, Jagdish for your visit and comments!
      yes, the cob-house is a small but very simple wonder and I am sure people will take to it after some time and it will become a trend (especially as a crisis result 🙂

  11. […] 3. I want to build a house with my own hands. No kidding! (imagine I can do that! ) One can build a beautiful cosy fairy house , cheap and secure, without engading an architect and a building company! More information here. […]

  12. Föhre Says:

    So ein Haus hätte ich auch gerne!

    Übrigens kannte ich im Burgenland ein Paar mit einem Strohgedeckten Lehmhaus, aber das war halt vor ca. 16-17 Jahren, weiss also nicht ob das jetzt noch “legal” ist 😛

  13. Rengenx Says:

    Как душевно рассписано: навеяло слова из centr – “Спаси и сохрани меня и все мою семью!”. Спасибо.

  14. mahesh chendake Says:

    our area is area of earth quake . Koyana Dam received more than 3 lacks small earthquakes and three big earthquakes so these houses can not stand on quakes can cause human loss which is very much dangerous than any .Our killari earthquake death toll was high because the houses were built traditionally with clay bricks so your dream house not possible in our area

    • axinia Says:

      🙂 but I am probably not going to live in your area…
      on the other had, there are always solutions for every situation, I hope you ahve proper houses for this earthquick problem.

    • I agree with Axinia, Maheshsaheb, that “there are always solutions for every situation”. It’s the job of science to find answers to every problem 🙂

      From the video InsertwittyName posted, it looks like cob houses are quite capable of withstanding moderate earthquakes by themselves. In any case, all it requires is a little ingenious, cheap and effective solution to make them even more quake resistant, like what this Peruvian engineer and his team have designed:


      By embedding strong meshes into the foundation and then enveloping the walls by tying together several of these inexpensive meshes and binding them to the walls by means of ordinary plastering, even the most basic, low-cost houses made of mud bricks can be made to withstand fairly strong earthquakes. It’s an innovative, practical, very easy and cost-effective solution to the problem of seismic shocks affecting low-cost structures made with locally available materials. I bet the same solution can be used on cob structures to give them even greater ability to withstand earthquakes.

      Or one could go for the normal solution of using horizontal and vertical reinforcement members to strenghten the structure but that would push up the cost and require more specialised techniques to complete the building 😐


  15. vinesh reddy Says:

    haiii axinia,
    i love this cob homes ,tat too which is posted above is really awsome work to appreciate. please can i get the plan copy and procedures to build this cob home.. because i am on low budget.. and planing to build a cob home please please please help mee out …………..

    • axinia Says:

      hi vinesh, i am not expeienced in that yet…please check the links I have given in the post, there you can find pleanty of informaiton on building.

  16. InsertwittyName Says:

    Actually, Cob houses are quite resistant to earth quakes. You see, brick (adobe) structures have natural built it “fault lines” which make them quite weak. Cob is built as basically one solid structure which makes its strength far surpass abode of even most stick built structures. Cob houses have been built in small scale and tested on shake tables and been shown to withstand quakes with a magnitude of 7.4 with only minimal cracks and no collapsing. At 7.4 most houses are doomed period. For a demo of this take a look at this video.

  17. pooyan Says:

    I was just wondering how beautiful the life can be in such a house 😉 amazing article, thanks Axinia.

  18. aleavacheal Says:

    wow! I just can’t beleive it . Excellent architecture. By reading this i got useful information.

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