Natural Building Course, Jordan

via: /permaculture.org.au   

Date: Starts Feb 27, 2011 and runs for 5 day(s).

Earthen Building is the most common building technique in the world. Earth has been used for building by humans for thousands of years in almost all parts of the globe. Although its popularity has decreased over the last century, it is now experiencing a revival in many parts of the world.

We will focus on earthen building, offering hands on experience with straw bale, cob, compressed earth block, and earthen and lime plasters. Students will learn to smoothly integrate a variety of natural building materials to create the best possible building solution for each individual situation.

We will demonstrate how to prospect and test for appropriate building sediment, how to mix earth to create building materials, how to install windows into straw bale walls, and show methods for attachment of wood (e.g. doors, roofs), and how to sculpt niches, shelves and furniture, and how to finish both earthen and straw bale walls with natural plasters.

As a complement to the hands-on building portion of the course there will be slide shows and discussion sessions about the philosophical and theoretical aspects of natural building.

Specific Topics Include:

- Intro into Earthen construction
- Straw bales; why use them and how?
- Compressed earth bricks; soil selection, production and use
- Rendering, plastering and finishing using different soil and lime based mixes
- Application of knowledge in an actual building site

The building the course attendees will be working on is the main building of the Jordan Permaculture Research Institute. When finished it will be used as an office space for the institute as well as a lecture hall. There will also be three rooms for volunteers to stay in.

Because the site is in the Jordan Valley, where heat is a major issue, the building is designed to minimize the building’s heat gain. The Southern and Western walls are going to be constructed of straw bales to minimize heat gain from the sun. The Northern and Eastern walls are going to be constructed of compressed earth bricks to bank the cold and relieve the building from any heat gained.

This course is organized by The Permaculture Research Institute (PRI), Vertical Clay Construction, a natural building company from the US, Smart Earth Solutions, a Jordanian company specializing in compressed earth brick manufacturing, and Entity Green, a Jordanian company that provides environmental services from consulting to recycling.


Sasha Rabin has been building and teaching others to build with natural materials since co-founding Seven Generations Natural Builders (SGNB) in 2002. She recently co-founded Vertical Clay Construction. Sasha has a degree in Ecological Design from Evergreen State College and apprenticed at the Cob Cottage Company. She has taught natural building classes at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, The Solar Living Institute, and the Institute of Urban Homesteading. She is currently living, learning and working on a suburban permaculture and natural building home and demonstration site in El Sobrante, Ca.

Hamzah Abu-Ragheb was born and raised in Jordan. He received his bachelors of science degree from the University of Maryland with an emphasis on ecology and evolution. He then returned to Jordan to begin an environmental services company, Smart Earth Solutions, which focused on earthen building methods. As such, Smart Earth Solutions’ main product was compressed earth bricks, which are made using locally available soils and a hydraulic press to make this alternative building method fast and efficient. During his years with Smart Earth Solutions, Hamzah attended numerous conferences and workshops regarding environmental solutions and ‘green’ building methods. Also, Hamzah was a member of the committee reviewing the Standardized Arab Earthen Building Code for the region. Currently, Hamzah is working as the recycling operations manager for Entity Green after co-starting their organic compost and gardening projects. Entity Green is a local company specializing in recycling and other environmental services. Finally, the Jordan Permaculture Research Institute building is being built by Hamzah and a group of volunteers from Entity Green and elsewhere.

Your tuition fees will subsidise training of poor locals

As per the Permaculture Master Plan, this course brings international teachers to train poor locals who could otherwise not afford such instruction, through the tuition fees of students from wealthier countries. International students effectively subsidise the training of locals, whilst both benefit from quality instruction as well as beneficial cultural exchange. You learn, and get to feel good about it too!


We have been able to book three-bedroom units in a complex not far from where the course will be held. It is convenient to the local town where there is a supermarket. Accommodation costs, in addition to the course fees, are US$215 a week for one unit (US$215 between 3 people will be $71 each for 5 days). Each unit contains three bedrooms, toilet, shower, lounge and kitchen. Googlemaps view of unit complex.


Breakfast, morning and afternoon tea and lunch are supplied to all participants. Dinner in the evening is self-catered (units described above have a kitchen). Dinner Shopping: There is a supermarket 5 minutes away by car. The cost for a one way trip to this supermarket is some 3-4 Jordanian Dinar.

Class times:

9am to 5pm, with 12:30-1:30pm lunch break, and half hour morning and afternoon tea breaks.

Travel Issues (airport pickups, transport, directions):

- Amman Airport/bus station pick-up: US$21 or JD30 for someone to come and collect you (this can be shared)
- Airport Taxi to the site: JD40 approximately. Upon request, we can also email you written directions, in Arabic, so that you can print these off and give these directions to your driver.

For further information for this course please contact education@permaculture.org.au.

Course pricing:
Prices in Australian dollars

$1200 (Normal price for this course)
$1000 (Early bird booking if paid 30 days before course start date)
$500 (Price for local Jordanian residents)

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