Two natural building workshops in Kenya:

Cob, Straw bale, Earthbag, Plaster and a Rocket stove

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Are you traveling to Kenya this summer?  Do you live in Kenya and want to try something different?

Consider this:

Explore your creative side by learning to sculpt spaces with cob, earthbag, straw bales and recycled materials.
Meet like minded people from various places and backgrounds.
Camp on Kenyan forestland away from touristic buzz and city noise.
Enjoy the power of group action, push your limits in a supportive environment.
Women especially,  discover your ability to build your own space.

afternoon light on eco hutgreen roof Permaculture

sculpting with cob - mit Lehm kreativ


Here’s the program

 Workshop 1:
Design, Earthbag, Cob, Strawbale & Co
Workshop 2:
Natural Plasters, Detailing & Rocket Cook stove
Weekend introductory workshops
Dates August 1-11, 2016 August 19-28, 2016Aug 6/7 or 20/12
ContentNatural house design

Earthbag foundation

Cob wall building with arches, and sculptural elements

Straw bale walls

Combining techniques and including recycled elements

Earthen floor
Natural plasters and paints made from local ingredients

Roof and ceiling

Rocket cook stove for efficient smoke-free cooking
Joinds the group for two days to have a hands-on introduction .
Aug 6/7 focus on cob building
Aug 20/21 focus on finishing or stove build

Cob and other natural building techniques are at the heart of these workshops. Those who want to learn a creative approach to building a small home or studio will gain inspiration and technical understanding.

The first workshop  (August 1-11) will introduce foundation and wall building with a selection of different techniques. Learn how to make decisions for your project, no matter where you’re located. Understand how to combine local skill and materials with modern needs. Learn mixing and building with earth- cob or adobe or floors! Find out how to create sculptural details like arches and built-in furniture. If time allows we’ll even put a roof on .

The second workshop (August 19- 28) moves to finishing: beautiful plasters made from earth and natural colors. We’ll share simple recipes and tools, tips and tricks for refining sculpted elements. To top off this part we’ll build a rocket cook stove

smoke free kitchen in Africaplaster practicePlaster technique


Who can take these workshops

Enthusiasm and a basic level of fitness combined with the desire to learn and get hands-on…these are the qualities we look for in our mixed group. While children are welcome, this program is directed at adult learners.

This could be a fun ‘travel and work’ opportunity for couples, folks on sabbatical, students of architecture or an empowering program for women. The fun is in the mix and we’ll keep the group small enough to have quality time together. No previous building experience required, but welcome.

mud mixing

Our daily rhythm …subject to input by participants

7 :00 breakfast for those who camp at the site

8 :00 start of program- stretching, check-in and first work session

10:30 short snack break

1:30 lunch

2:00 teaching in the shade…discussions and some theory

3-4:30 afternoon building session…. something special to wrap up the day

Evenings are open to group activity or solitude… songs around the campfire anyone?


Your facilitator Elke Cole

Elke with women's group learning at site

Natural builder Elke Cole

workshop scene cob

With years of experience in Natural building and workshop facilitation around the globe, you can be sure to get valuable insights and practical tips as well as reality checks. Look up my projects in Tanzania and Cameroon and images of stoves at Africa Kitchen Revolution. Past participants have designed and built homes for themselves and others, inspired and encouraged by learning in a safe, fun, and supportive setting where everyone’s contribution is valued and all voices are heard.

We will bring in local builders where applicable and learn from their experience as well.

Our host

host of cob workshop

Joannah Stutchbury is an accomplished Permaculture trainer with a passion for conservation of forests and wildlife in Kenya. This is her message to you:

I am third generation Kenyan, having had a number of varied careers, from Props Buyer on Films, growing culinary herb plants for sale, Permaculture training in Kenya and California with Warren Brush of Quail Springs in 2011, I have been teaching Permaculture around Kenya, mainly focusing on earth care (and regenerating land/habitat through reintroduction of hedgerows). My daughter and I spent 6 months in California following the world of sustainability: City School Gardens, Natural Building, Mushroom inoculation, land restoration, and living in community! After that I spent 6 months with the  Elephants and Bees Reseach Center in Voi, near Tsavo East National Park.

With the huge encroachment of Nairobi City on our environment it becomes more and more obvious that we have to make sure that this beautiful location is put to good use as it is. Old indigenous forest with monkeys, hedgehogs, bush-babys, owls and bats who are taking refuge here while their other habitats are being destroyed. Development with big houses is not an option. We are therefore hoping to turn “Kivulini” (Place in the Shade) into a Sustainability Center with a diversity of Workshops, including Permaculture, Natural Building, Bee keeping, Composting and Earth Care.

This cottage will be the hub of this new dream!! It is truly in a unique location, where walks in the dense forest, listening to the river rush by can be part of the day!! Monkeys will no doubt come and check us out – and we have to keep this in mind when we design the area – especially the “outside’ where they will have access.

Forest road near Kiambu


Check out the location

Kivulini (place in the shade) regenerative learning center is being developed near Kiambu town. The property is part of what once was the Kiambu forest that has been completely deforested. The property has been family owned for two generations. Our hosts are protecting their 7 acres of remaining natural habitat by creating the learning center.

the site for the cob houseMonkey at site in Kenyathe forest pond


Kiambu is conveniently located only 20 km from the center of Nairobi, one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Participants will be met either at the airport or at a meeting point in Nairobi.


It’s not too hot

August brings nice building temperatures in this region. Have a look at the chart (from!kenya-geography/c6s8)


chart for Nairobi

Camping in the forest

You will sleep in your own tent. Wake up to the sounds of the forest. You’ll be nourished by the earth’s energy and feel connected to Nature. Prepare for cool nights (nighttime temperatures can drop to 15 C) by bringing a suitable sleeping bag and mat.

If you have questions or special needs around sleeping arrangement, please talk to us



We believe that food is most important to the success of a program- so we are working with a professional chef to make sure that we are well nourished throughout the program. Discover some Kenyan flavors, locally grown produce and of course Kenyan tea and coffee.


Time off…time to explore

Each workshop will have a free day- a break from working. And there’s time between workshops for those who stay for both programs.  Kenya is famous for its touristic offerings. Here are some nearby options for your free time:

1. Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley – possibilities of doing boat trips and seeing hippos. Wonderful camping opportunity at Carnelleys Camp  with day excursions to Hells Gate where it is possible to hire bicycles for the day.
2. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , where you can visit the orphaned baby elephants.
3. Giraffe Manor  a wildlife sanctuary and lodge….where you can feed the giraffe.
4. Nairobi National Park . There are usually lions here and most other plains game, although no elephants.

Giraffe ManorNairobi National Park

Visit the Kenya Wildlife Service Page for more info on parks and conservation areas.


How much does it cost

 Workshop 1Workshop 2Two workshops
(with one week break)
Weekend option 1:
Sat/Sunday Aug 6/7
Weekend option 2:
Sat/Sun Aug. 20/21
Local participants
(No camping, 1 meal/day)

30000 KES
(registration 5000 KES)
30000 KES
(registration 5000 KES)
45000 KES
(registration 10000 KES)
All other participants
(camping & 3 meals/day)
520- 390 € (600-450$)
or 59000- 45000 KES
sliding scale
(registration: €100 or 10000 KES)
520- 390 € (600-450$)
or 59000- 45000 KES
sliding scale
(registration: €100 or 10000 KES)
750 € / 850 $
or 85000 KES
(registration: €100 or 10000 KES)
10000 KES
(registration 5000 KES)
10000 KES
(registration 5000 KES)

cobbers dancemaking Adobe blocks in Camerooncob dance

earth plaster

Register now!

Fill out the contact form to start your registration today. To fully secure your place please send your registration fee immediately. There are two ways to do this:

Mpesa payments : please send registration fee of  KES 5000 to 0727381911 (Joannah Stutchbury)

Wire transfer to: Standard Chartered Bank,Nairobi,  account name : Joannah Stutchbury, Swift code SCBLKENXXXX; Bank Code 02076, Account number is 0100339350801.



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