Cob is a mixture of clay soil, sand, straw and water. It is a way of building houses and other structures, a building technique used for centuries all over the world. Its wide use eventually died down because of the emergence of modern building materials such as concrete and steel. But it was revived in the 80s as a result of having alternative building materials that are environment-friendly, inexpensive, healthy and readily available.
It was in the late 90s when we were introduced to natural building, when our close friends Jonilyn and Zeli Strugar built their cob house in La Trinidad, Benguet, Cordillera Region, Northern Philippines. We were amazed then but at the same time reluctant with the idea because we were used to the conventional way of building. But after consuming bottles and bottles of their home-brewed schnaps and wine through the years, we were finally convinced. We did a lot of research and found out that there’s a growing international community of natural builders who are making a political statement against the conventional industrial building practices, which is extractive, destructive and expensive. As activists, this made us decide that natural building would be a perfect way for us to make a political action as part of our choice to have a sustainable living.
When we decided to build our own cob house, the Strugar couple along with their two lovely daughters, invited us to their place for a cob building workshop. After reading so much materials on natural building specifically cob, it was a great opportunity for us to have a hands on experience in making cob walls.
We learned a lot and we had so much fun doing it. It was truly an enriching experience. It made us more confident in building our own cob house.
If you want to know more about the Strugar family and their story, visit http://www.greenarchiadvoc.org/?p=416
(Photos by Cye Reyes and Carol Galvez)