Conference 2018 BOOK NOW


28th September, Irish National Heritage Park, Ireland.

This years theme: The Secret Life of Earth                                           

Clayfest Partners


Whether it's the thousands of clay buildings quietly waiting to be discovered, the skills to mend or build them, the social movements starting to explore this 'outsider' material or the very nature of the clay minerals we have yet to discover, there is much secret and unknown about clay and the buildings it makes...



The Secret Life of Earth

This will be EBUKI’s 10th annual conference. The theme this year is the ‘Secret Life of Earth’. Up for debate could be topics such as our hidden earth-built heritage and how to increase its visibility, innovations pioneered by under-the-radar builders, will contemporary earth building remain in the margins, the role of water in earth at a microscopic level and much, much more. More information on our homegrown and international speakers and their presentations will follow.

Price: €115

Fri. 28th September

All Clayfest workshops and Conference are Engineers Ireland and RIAI CPD Approved.
6.5 CPD hours per workshop.
6.0 CPD hours per conference.






Behind the Plaster: Clay Walling in Ireland.

Dr. Barry O’Reilly.




Dr Barry O'Reilly has worked in vernacular architecture and folk tradition over the past thirty years. His recent doctoral thesis at Oxford Brookes University focused on traditional hamlets in Ireland. He is currently finalizing a book on corrugated-iron buildings in Ireland. Barry is also editor dealing with Europe and Eurasia for the new edition of the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. Otherwise, he works for the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

This talk will focus principally on the published work dealing with earthen buildings in Ireland, providing a context for the talks on more contemporary approaches to repair and conservation.



Mayglass Farmstead - An Interconnection of People and Place.

Pat Ruane.



Architectural Conservation Officer - Cork City Council

Pat Ruane was the architect who oversaw the Heritage Council’s most important vernacular project to date, the conservation of a mudwall farmhouse in Mayglass, Co. Wexford. As he worked on the project, it became clear to him that these types of buildings are not just about materials and structure, they are bound up with a way of life. In his presentation, Pat will talk about his experience.



Keeping it all together – earth mortar in stone buildings.

Emmet Stafford.



Earth-mortared stone buildings were constructed in Ireland from the medieval period to at least the nineteenth century. Although rarely mentioned in built heritage appraisals earth mortar is visible in the archaeological record and is encountered in architectural conservation projects. This talk will highlight a range of buildings on which earth mortar has been encountered in County Wexford and will address the strengths, common failings and conservation requirements of this building material.  

Emmet Stafford MA PGC MIAI, is a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin where he studied archaeology in the 1990’s. After working as a field archaeologist for several years he became eligible to hold a state archaeological licence in 2000. Since then he has excavated archaeological sites from early prehistoric to post-medieval date. Emmet is particularly interested in built heritage conservation as well as the interpretation and presentation of heritage sites and spaces. He is a partner in Stafford McLoughlin Archaeology, a heritage consultancy providing services in archaeology, tourism and built heritage conservation in southeastern Ireland.


Building a Contemporary Cob Home in Ireland.

Louise McPhillips and Iain Thom.




Cob Self-Builders

Louise and Iain are in the throes of building their cob house in Co. Monaghan. They will share their experiences, both the joys and the challenges, of building a contemporary mud house in Ireland 2018.


Earth Building in Arizona, New Mexico and Beyond.

Bill and Athena Steen.




The Canelo Project, Arizona

Athena and Bill Steen founded The Canelo Project in Arizona in 1989. Much of their work is influenced by their roots and connections with the southwestern United States. Athena comes from a background of New Mexican, Native American potters, sculptors and educators, Bill from southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico.
The Canelo Project centres on the theme – Connecting People, Culture and Nature. It is a centre for learning, research, demonstration and cross-cultural gatherings. Their activities revolve around workshops, tours, intern programs and writing. The focal point of their work is handcrafting simple, small-scale and comfortable shelter, built primarily with local and natural materials. In that pursuit, they have developped a unique straw bale and clay wall system, finished with beautiful clay and lime plasters, sculptural wall carvings, earthen floors and clay ovens.
They have co-authored several books that include – The Straw Bale House, Small Strawbale, Built by Hand, The Beauty of Straw Bale Houses, The Handcrafted Life of Don Juan Morales, Children of Clay, The Canelo Project 2009 and Earthen Floors.


The Current Irish Framework for Earth Building - Let the Projects do the Talking.

Féile Butler.



Féile Butler is an architect specialising in conservation and natural building projects. She is co-founder of Mud and Wood, a business which offers training, consultancy and advice for construction projects involving natural building materials. There is a strong emphasis on earth. Since 2014, she has been an executive of Earth Building UK and Ireland in the UK. In 2015, she co-organised EBUKI's first Irish national earth building event in Sligo, Earth Building Ireland. Mud-Fest took place nationwide during Heritage Week the following year. In 2018, she founded Earthen Building UK and Ireland as an official organisation in Ireland and is the chief organiser of Clayfest 2018! In her talk, Féile will take a look at the current framework governing earth building in Ireland as she has experienced it through various projects, both heritage and new-build.



Terra-Migaki-Design, an International Competition Born between Italy and Japan.

Antonio Salvatore.



Antonio met the Japanese master craftsman, Kenji Matzuki, and the architect, Shinzaku Suzuki, during a training event in Japan in 2015, and a fast friendship was born. Their collaborations grew to encompass an international design competition for earthen objects, TerraMigaki, accompanied by workshops, conferences and exhibitions. Antonio will look at how the team was organised, how it as grown and how it has changed. There is a mutual admiration between the two cultures, Italians being fascinated by The Japanese Orient, Japanese being fascinated by Made in Italy. And Antonio was also particularly struck by how much food was eaten with the Japanese masters! What started as an exchange born solely of clay, has permeated into multiple aspects of Antonio's life.

Antonio Salvatore is an architect who graduated from the Polytechnic University of Turin. He founded Laboratorio TERRA TERRA, dedicated to bio-ecological, energetically and socially sustainable architecture, with a strong focus on the reduction of environmental impact and accessibility to indoor comfort. His journey brought him to Arcosanti, Arizona, US, where he adopted the concept of "arcology", how to be a technician and a creative combining architecture with ecology. He is passionate about the construction site and natural materials.
Antonio advocates for architecture that is intelligent and original, leaving banality behind.




Publications: Tools to Open Secrets (or The Importance of Earthen Publications).

Filipe Jorge.



This year the ARGUMENTUM Publishing Company celebrates 25 years of activity. It provides an opportunity to reflect on this specialised body of work. Over 13 years, we have published 22 books in several languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. Themes of earthen architecture and construction were inspired by professionals in this specialised field. Four types emerged 1- Proceedings of conferences and seminars ; 2- Studies and other works, relevant to technical and professional interest; 3- The start of the collection of Manuals of Earthen Architecture and 4- the publication of reference books with in-depth studies in various regions of the world, such as Europe, the Middle East and Latin America and last, but not least, Hassan Fathy's unavoidable Architecture for the Poor.

Filipe Jorge, architect, photographer and publisher. Postgraduate in Heritage Recovery, has worked for 25 years as an architect, making dozens of projects and works, as well as surveys on traditional architecture. Member of ICOMOS, of the Ibero-American Network PROTERRA and the CENTRO DA TERRA Association. Filipe Jorge founded and manages ARGUMENTUM since 1993, a publisher house dedicated to themes of Traditional Architecture, Urbanism, Heritage and Aerial Photography, where he coordinated the production of more than 100 editions of books, guides and scripts. In the last 13 years, he concentrated his efforts to editorial production, especially thematic collections on Earth and international projects under development in Europe, Africa and Latin /  


The practical side of turf walling in the modern oeuvre.

Joel Franklyn.



Joel lives and works on a small croft on the Isle of Skye. He is a stonemason conservator, working all over Scotland the wider UK, Spain and at the moment France. He attended the Icelandic turf building course in 2013 through the auspices of Arch Network and, along with Dr Mark Thacker, was invited to run a three day practical course in turf building at Clayfest 2015.

This talk will be about his role in Arc Architects' project in Glen Doll, Angus.




Passing on the secrets: The making and breaking of building craft traditions in North Atlantic Europe.

Dr. Mark Thacker.



The North Atlantic region of Europe has become synonymous with various earth-building techniques. Binding masonry buildings with clay mortars or facing turf buildings in herringbone patterns are not ahistoric constructional technologies which have been in continuous use here since the dawn of time, however, but are techniques which appear in the archaeological record in different contexts at particular times depending on the surrounding cultural and physical environment. In this presentation Mark will discuss the evidence for different building techniques in the archaeological record of North Atlantic Europe, including Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Scotland and Ireland, focussing on the emergence, transmission and loss of different building traditions, on the meanings of some of the associated materials and on the craftspeople themselves.

A conservation stonemason by training, Mark is now a buildings archaeologist, materials analyst and research fellow in history at the University of Stirling. A graduate of the Universities of York and Edinburgh, his doctoral research focussed on the masonry mortars of North Atlantic Europe. He is currently Principle Investigator of the Scottish Medieval Castles and Chapels C-14 Project.




Earth Knowing - how earth building stimulates our survival instincts.

Peter Cowman.



30 years ago Peter Cowman admitted that he did not know how to properly design a house.  So began a quest to learn and teach the lost art of what he calls ‘sheltermaking’.  Earth played a large part in this awakening, revealing what Peter refers to as the ‘invisible’ architecture - those aspects of the design and construction process that confer direction and meaning to our lives thereby stimulating consciousness and activating the potential to significantly contribute to the evolution of human culture.

Peter Cowman is an architect, eco-builder, writer and teacher delivering Courses & Workshops internationally on the subjects of Living Architecture & Sheltermaking. He began teaching people how to design their own homes in 1989 and has a special interest in the creation of affordable, healthy, low-impact, mortgage-free buildings. He lives in a self-built earth shelter in south Leitrim.  His Sheltermaker's Manual is published by Python Press. His website is


Lessons Learned from a Landscape Partnership Project.

Tom Morton.



A 4 year community landscape project discovered a fascinating 6000 year heritage of earth building, recording 147 surviving homes, castles, barns, bridges, doo’cots and churches made with earth materials.

Tom has considerable expertise in ecological construction, conservation and the reuse of old buildings. He has managed a wide variety of projects for private and community clients and leads Arc's research activities. Tom is RIAS accredited in both conservation and sustainable design.




Going back to Earth, the alternative to Doomsday materials.

Tom Woolley.



The Grenfell disaster has set a challenge to natural builders. Can we offer a real alternative through earth with other bio-based materials to the plastic products that are destroying the planet and killing people in their homes. How do we go back to earthen first principles to create safe and healthy places to live?

Tom Woolley B.Arch, PhD is an architect and environmental researcher living in County Down Northern Ireland.   He was Professor of Architecture at Queens University Belfast from 1991 to 2007 and has published several books including the Green Building Handbook, Natural Building, Hemp and Lime Construction, Low Impact Building and Building Materials, Health and Indoor Air Quality. Tom has spoken at numerous events around the world including Canada, South Africa, Malaysia, Holland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Poland.





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