News and Events

Exploring cob, earth bricks, wattle and daub and rammed earth building

March 28, 2024

Learning how to create sturdy and even mud bricks was just one of the lessons Central Otago students took back to school after participating in Ecological Building hui. Central Otago REAP Enviroschools facilitator, Lucy Francke, said she was impressed by the focus and diligence of the students. Below Lucy tells us more:

Last year Earth Building Association New Zealand came to Cromwell to help run a workshop for our Enviroschools Facilitators, Cromwell Primary School and Goldfields School. One teacher from each school brought along their class. The various earth building techniques were introduced including cob, earth brick, wattle and daub, and rammed earth. This EBANZ event was run by Delia Bellaby and Elizabeth Norris.

Facilitator Lucy with students examining straw and thinking about its use in insulation.

In Alexandra our local EBANZ member is a member of the Vallance Cottage Working Group and this led to the Central Otago District Council Properties and Facilities Officer, Bex Snape, contacting me to help organise some days for our local schools to experience the cottage and make some earth bricks. This was attended by The Terrace School and Goldfields School. Bex is in close contact with the Vallance family who are coming to Alexandra later in the year and hope to meet some of the students and answer their many questions.

This event tied in really well with the Enviroschools Guiding Principle of Sustainable Communities and also the Local Curriculum. The teachers from The Terrace School year 7 and 8 classes were pleased to be included as it was well-timed to fit with their current inquiry topic of connecting to place.

The other project that I am currently involved in that stemmed from the Cromwell EBANZ workshop is the building of a cob wall as a playground feature at Cromwell Primary School. The whole school has been involved and even CELCI, the local pre-school have come to have a go. We are about 80% finished and will share more soon!

Banner image: Students accurately measure four cups of sand, two of clay and then a handful of straw, add a little water, mix well and then fill a brick mould.

A carefully constructed brick ready for drying then use.

A bucket load of fun with mud. Tamping down into the mould to remove air pockets.










Here you can read the original article about student involvement and Vallance Cottage Working Group.

Banner photo: Students work on getting the right quantities during the Alexandra workshop.