Friday, February 12, 2010


Should cob be branded under another name? Would the building community take the material more seriously if I built houses out of 182-grade Noncrete? (the grade being designated by the weight, in pounds, of the cobber who stomped together the mix). With the conception of the brand, it now seems appropriate to consider ways in which mud houses can be built more expediently, and with less work. Instead of dancing on mud with our shoes off, why not just call up the Noncrete Delivery Company, and order a truck to come and dump a load of the stuff? And perhaps there should be fleets of robots for rent that will come apply the cob at a perfect speed, creating perfectly plumb and even walls (without a level!), and with the ability to program the design into their computer brains, so that you can just sit back and sip juice on a stool. The robots can be called Noncretins, or something of the sort. Then everyone could live in cob houses, and the world would be sustainable just like mother nature intended (forget about all the sand that would be removed from our rivers, and the clay that would be mined from our lands, and the nasty chemicals that would go into making the robots' eyes). THIS IS THE FUTURE.

But for now, we're still cobbing the old-fashioned way. Natural builders are a backwards folk, who seem to care about neither efficiency, nor progress. All they care about is having a good, healthy time, which sounds to me like the desire of a selfish, lazy person. Enjoy the photos below, as they might represent the last recorded mud building project before the imminent industrialization/robotification of natural building.

Sheila the dog, Margaret's co-inhabitant

Look at those shelves all filled up!

(notice the cracked plaster hanging on for dear life on the underside of the shelf)

Margaret knitting a hat for me in "Margaret's nook" (nook design courtesy of Mike McDonough)

This is the one succulent from the green roofing workshop that held its ground and its life through the hot summer of '08 and is ready to thrive this spring, and bear bananas maybe.

Margaret points to the arugula in the garden that she lords over.

East side in the morning.

After this photo set, you might be thinking: SOMEONE GET THIS KID A NEW PROJECT! He keeps posting photos of the same cottage over, and over, and over! For all who share this sentiment, I'm happy to announce that I'll be starting a new cottage in March, at a co-housing community in Durham, NC.


  1. The cottage really looks great. Margaret has made the interior very liveable.

  2. My 115-grade noncrete would destroy your 182-grade noncrete