Modern cob home in England
Since I was a kid I’ve wanted my own house. Through the years I have lived in large homes, small homes and student rooms and now I still don’t own my own home. But I have learned a lot about what I want in a home. I do not want a large house. I don’t want to heat it, cool it or clean it. I just want a home to be cozy, inexpensive, easy to clean and safe.
I enjoy history and since living in Europe I have looked at a number of housing strategies that people have come up with through the centuries. Many people today seem to want a certain kind of traditional architecture using certain materials but for thousands of years humans have lived healthy and happily in a myriad of different styles of homes. People have also found that some old materials are simply the best. Often in the U.S. people with little money buy trailers or mobile homes. I’ve never understood this because they are poorly built, not energy efficient, have no style and fall apart after 30 years or so, yet with the same amount of money or less people can build very cool, energy efficient, solid homes if they are willing to learn from the past. After all – why invent the wheel yet again?
There are three kinds of homes I have found that are very interesting. The first is a style of architecture, ‘courtyard building’. When I first came to Europe I noticed these and wondered why Americans don’t build them. They originate from an ancient form of building. This form is now used to build appartment buildings however the original form was on a much smaller scale where extended families built their own homes butt up against their families homes and the courtyard was created. Often the interior was used for animals. Most in Europe have been broken-up and sold as seperate apartments but in China there is still a region where extended families live in the same building.
Outside of courtyard house in the Netherlands
Inside a Courtyard house.
The second kind of home is not so much the architecture but the materials used and that is cob. Cob is a combination of mud, straw and dung (very inexpensive). Cob homes are often thought of as being those small mud huts in Africa however cob has been used all over the world for thousands of years in all kinds of climates. The two photos below are in England. One is a 400 year old home that is still very much a nice modern home and the second was recently built.
17th century cob home England
The third home is again not so much the style (although I do think its cool) but the materials. It was built within 4 months by a family in Wales using ancient materials and cost only a few thousand dollars. Heating costs are minimal and can be very modern. I personally would want to finish off the interior with cleaner lines and also in order make it easier to clean but the idea is very appealing. The basic building materials are wood, straw and cob with a lime wash to keep it clean. What really appeals to me is that it was made with practically no money simply elbow grease. I would at least love to try it. To learn more check out their site.. www.simondale.net/house/
House in Wales