Virtual International Clayfest 2020 - BUILDING SKILLS and BUILDING SKILLS

Clayfest is going ONLINE! This is the very opposite of where Clayfest comes from, a chance to develop conversations with clay or a trowel in hand as well as the skills that pass there are opportunities to network with a big group of likeminded people from near and far.
But don't despair, going online means speakers we couldn't hope to bring from Africa, America North and South as well as nearer to home Ireland and the UK. And you can join us too, whether you are in Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Zimbabwe! So welcome, we hope this can bring some skills, knowledge and understanding of what is going on in heritage, new build, design, research, standards and training, a full range of skills in building and building skills

When you join this Clayfest you can stay 'in the hall' right through or dip in and out and listen to the bits you think are most relevant to you. But the Clayfest spirit is also to bump into things you never expected, learn about topics you thought irrelevant which suddenly take a shape and significance you never expected. Take a look at the speakers below and come and find out what is going on in this and other corners of the earth...


Virtual International Clayfest 2020, 27-28 November, Online.


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...




This will be EBUKI’s 12th annual conference. The theme this year is 'Building Skills and Building Skills’.

This theme includes exploring actual skills involved in earth building, how we can build and develop our own skills as professionals and how we spread our skills and teach others, particularly in the ever-growing digital world.

Academic Talks:
20 minutes as part of an hour long three-speaker talk and Q&A.
After these talks, we hope to provide delegates with an opportunity to discuss your work further in a smaller seminar group, from 20 minutes to an hour.
Examples could be: your research on a particular aspect/skill in earth building; a talk which teaches the audience about a specific technique in the research industry; your background as an academic and how the growing digital world has affected your work

Vocational Talks:
20mins to 1hr discussing your field of work and its relation to earth building and our theme. Examples could be: how you promote earth building as a professional; how you have adapted to the digital world in your job; how you continue to build your skills as a professional whilst working

Skills Workshops:
20mins to 1hr demonstrating a skill to do with our theme, with a Q&A lead by our host including pre-written and live questions from the audience.
Examples could be: Showing us how to make a clay lump block; how to use a piece of software for online classes, particularly for getting around the issues of teaching physical skills


Fri. 27th Sat. 28th November





The Creation and Implementation of the First Cob Building Code in the USA.

John Fordice, Architect & Anthony Dente, PE. p




Description In late 2019, the USA based International Residential Code (IRC) adopted the IRC’s Cob Construction Appendix.
The project, the first of its kind for cob construction in the USA, was overseen by the Cob Research Institute (CRI).
John and Anthony, the president and vice president of CRI and lead engineer for the IRC Cob Construction Appendix, will
present on their roles in creating the code. They will discuss the research, finances and community engagement that led to the completion of the code and it’s commentary. This session will also cover the presenters experience as practicing designers that led to the development of the code as well as their experience utilizing methods set forth in this code. Lastly they will discuss the ways the IRC Straw Bale Construction Appendix paved the way and opened doors for the IRC Cob Construction Appendix and how both codes positively affect designing rammed earth, earth bag, adobe and other conventionally built natural building systems in the US..

SpeakersAnthony is a Structural Engineer who strives to assist the natural and green building communities in development of design procedures for natural and green materials and systems, safe and effective options for future engineers. Anthony practices structural design for straw bale structural design, and is a board member for the Cob Research Institute (CRI). With CRI, Anthony was the lead engineer of the Cob Construction Appendix to the International Residential Code (IRC). Anthony also contributed to the Straw Bale Building Detail book published by the California Straw Building Association (CASBA). Anthony has advised, designed and collaborated in numerous university-based, small scale, and full scale testing programs on the structural behavior of natural materials.

Architect John Fordice has broad professional experience in residential, commercial, and institutional projects. I am attracted
to architecture by the craft of producing working drawings, the problem solving of design, and the creation of unique
usable structures. Falling in love with cob and all it’s potential at a Cob Cottage Company workshop in 1995, I immediately saw the lack of proven structural standards and code recognition as barriers to its widespread use. Realizing the need for
a cob building code as the key to acceptance of cob as a legitimate way to build, I set out to solve the problem and create a Cob Code. The process has taken 25 years, led to the creation of CRI, and taught me to grow beyond my singular approach to life and rely on others. The talented group of individuals that has come together as CRI has made the dream of a Cob Code possible. It has been a rewarding devotional adventure that promises much more to come.


Flood-resilient earthen construction technology and the Case-Study of Pakistan

 Scarlett Lee. a



Description Despite the long history of earth as a building material progress in the vernacular technology of mud buildings has been hindered by the conservatism of craftsmen. Delays in progressing vernacular technology and climate change are endangering earthen dwellings. One of the most notorious examples is the floods in 2010 in Pakistan, which caused around 2 million homes to collapse, many of them earthen buildings. The session will analyse reasons why traditional cob and adobe houses in Pakistan collapsed and fabric-formed rammed earth will be proposed as a sustainable housing solution in the context of its flood-resilience, low-cost, community-driven, and flexible features. As an example, lab tested and developed prototypes will demonstrate the increased structural density and the morphological flexibility that enhances the resistance to erosion. The ultimate aim of the research is to empower local people in flood prone-areas.

Speaker Scarlett is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, developing flood-resilient earth construction technology. Her research proposes fabric-formed rammed earth as affordable and sustainable housing in flood-prone areas. She has a masters from the School of UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture. She volunteered in the Philippines in 2019 to deliver earth workshops and manage renovation projects. She delivered basic earth construction knowledge to more than 60 local people after planning workshops aimed at participants’ experience level. She has a Master’s degree in Architectural Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.


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.


Experience of lime stabilised earth and cob.

Tom Pollard. p



Description  I am in no way an academic or 100% earth builder but perhaps can contribute something that may open discussion on methods and going with the feel a building or project dictate when carrying out repairs. I've always been open to constructive criticism and learning from a deep foundation upwards.
Business is good, interesting structures and mixes always underway. Two years sticking to my hot mix mortar journey now and enjoying it.
Attached are some images from a very challenging repair we carried out last autumn, a very shook cottage with stone gable rebuild and earth wall repairs. The walls were deeply eroded by rainwater run off and from cattle scratching themselves.
All worked out well, the repairs have held and a new thatch protects.
We had no direction from engineer or heritage officer but having experience of lime stabilised earth and cob we carried out some vertical repairs. If of interest I can elaborate a bit more and if I can keep the Irish relationship open then happy to




Wobbly buildings and digital surveying.

Róisín Nic Cóil. a



Description Carrying out a measured survey of a ‘wobbly building’ has been made easier with point cloud
surveys and digital techniques. One can always tell by looking at drawings of a building if they have
been digitally surveyed or not, for example when assumptions are made about right-angles and
straight walls, it is likely that rough measurements were taken on site and a simple drawing created.
The technology is there to capture wobbles, curves, changes in measurements, but what might we
lose by not surveying by hand? This session will present some examples of high-tech survey
drawings and introduce the technology involved.

Speaker Currently developing a set of skills in the area of building surveying. From studying architecture as a
school leaver to studying building surveying as a mature student, my career path diverted in several
directions between times. Eight years spent in public service administration, rising through the ranks
of backstage theatre, and running a freelance indexing business. I have had repeat business from
trusting clients. I enjoy voluntary work, for example as coordinator of the Community Supported
Agriculture Network of Ireland. 


Did it work? Gauging the success of preservation methods at Çatalhöyük, Turkey.

Dr Ashley Lingle. a



Description The Neolithic Çatalhöyük is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built of complex earthen stratigraphy. There have been efforts to preserve and display the site since it was first excavated in 1961, with limited success. For many years the preservation of the structures was chiefly done through the practice of consolidation, the result was an empirical practice, with limited opportunities for evaluating the treatments. An approach looking at historic treatments in conjunction with a quantitative methods for gauging success has allowed the development of a new conservation program at the site. This talk will discuss the two-pronged approach using lab testing of consolidants applied to the earthen architecture, and the digital monitoring of in-situ structures. Current conservation treatments aim to be: environmentally sympathetic; use materials that can withstand the climate; and incorporate traditional earthen repair techniques. Also digital strategies aids in demonstrating the success of these programs in practice. 

Speaker Ashley Lingle presently teaches at Cardiff on the BSc and MSc programs in conservation. She was Head of Conservation for the Çatalhöyük Research Project from 2012 to 2020. Her PhD from Cardiff University focused on the use of aqueous polymers on archaeological earthen substrates. She holds a MA and MSc from University College London. Her other research interests include digital preservation, preventative conservation, sustainable conservation practice, and community outreach. 


The Pitfalls of Energy Retrofit of Earthen Architecture.

Peter Cox FRSA. p



Description Looking at the options for an energy upgrade of a traditional earthen architecture
building – the pitfalls out there and the importance of understanding the building before
proposing interventions. The talk will be short with a significant time for a general

Speaker Peter Cox is an experienced conservation scientist working in the area for almost 40 years – he is
president of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Energy, Sustainability & Climate Change,
he was part of an international expert group who wrote the EN 16833;2017 “Guidelines for the Deep
Retrofit of Traditional & Heritage Buildings” his company wrote the recent Climate Change Adaptation
Sectoral Plan for Built and Archaeological Heritage; his company wrote the “Understanding Carbon in
the Built Environment” for Historic England is a member of a number of Policy documents and teaches
on many courses in amny international universities. He is a Fellow of the RSA.


The secret of the Nile
Microbiological nanotechnology clay code
Devolution of the porous pharaonic civilization.

Alaa Emam. p



Description Between my natural ,expertise ,and research I have found a novel turning point about clay and its resources ,to bring an beneficiary products , to change our daily life , from health living up to tools and much more , this result comes from the knowledge traced back to thousands of years in the Egyptian civilization ,by applying my Gene Hammer theory ,which uniquely linking between soil and the plants in microbial roadmap , I have reach a result about a porous concept that’s the crucial point we have found it as mysterious point behind human living within all past history, which we have in our abstract here turn to porous from the non-porous a solution for 90% from our daily problems The products I have worked to produce within 2 decades are very practical applications including housing, manufacturing, kitchen and food leading to big chain of creative products

Speaker Alaa is a scientist who grew up by the river Nile, the Egyptian soil evolving his mental and physical being. He studied agricultural sciences and blended science and history to create a unique invention known as gene hammer technology,
which was crucial in many scientific, agricultural and industrial projects, replacing with more natural techniques areas targeted by GM. He applied devolution methods to trace and restore cells back to their past, the technology applied at a higher practical level between plants and the soil. Nowadays he looks through Egyptian scientific eyes how clay was a backbone for the Egyptian civilization, brought to the surface from the deep soil by plants revealing a lot that was hidden beneath. 


How the roles of young women, dedicated training and climate-change adaptation support the earth building revival Nicaragua.

Helen Shears. p



DescriptionA short visual presentation of young women at the forefront of the earth building revival in Nicaragua. How building young women’s confidence and SKILLS inherently links to leadership in both the heritage and new-build revival of earth BUILDING in northern and rural Nicaragua. Earth-building over the last 15 years in Nicaragua - challenges and developments and the impact and potential of a dedicated training centre for women. How international networking fosters innovation, including the recent Nicaragua/UK collaboration with AMCC and Bee Rowan of Strawbuild for the British Council’s Crafting Futures Grant Scheme. This pproject with AMCC and an exchange visit with Bee which included lime stabilising local soils helping to ‘future-proof’ earth building in the face of rapid climate change, with increased hurricane, driving prolonged rain and flood events. Also during the recent pandemic stimulating networking and remote work continues and is possible through presentations and events on-line. A call will be made for developing further links between the Nicaraguan training centre and EBUKI trainers and shared training techniques.

Speaker Helen Shears is a training consultant and technical adviser, working for 26 years with Asociacion Mujeres Constructoras de Condega (AMCC) Nicaragua, Helen’s home for 10 months each year. From an arts background, Helen trained and worked as a carpenter, furniture maker, builder and trainer - incuding earth building, promoting its revival in Northern Nicaragua ever since. Through ‘participatory action research’ Helen took the opportunity to research women’s participation and roles in development and sustainability in Condega. Having experienced training as a woman in a ‘non-traditional’ trade for women she knows first-hand about the challenges faced by women in predominantly male training environments, and has developed teaching methods and training processes with the team and specialists in the field, specifically designed to support women in the trades, including earth building and leadership skills. Helen hopes to develop her links with the earth building network in the UK, Ireland and Europe. Also, fostering training and research links in Nicaragua with earth building networks regionally and beyond, all sharing similar challenges and  heritage-at-risk stories, where women also play an important role in the earth building revival. 


Using earth with waste, as a construction material solution.font>

Lizzie Wynn. a



Description Solid waste (SW), is now commonly recognised as a global threat that is unconstrained by boundaries
Ocean clean-up projects are collecting plastic which will add exponentially to land based waste. Waste
material could be viewed as a resource, if it can be organised, repurposed and used; for example, glass
bottles, cans, plastic bottles or tyres. Where conflict or disaster has occurred, building materials can be
scarce and using waste can be a solution, or a part of preparedness. Few academic studies explore
proposals for direct reuse of waste material with earth/cob without changing its state.
This session will look at solutions proposed for transitional structures in Gaza and a current build project
onon a public site in Porthmadog, Gwynedd

Speaker Lizzie has an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation in the Built Environment 2018 / PhD research Welsh School of Architecture Visiting lecturer and short course leader at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales 2015-20 Clayfest 2018 workshop leader Renew Wales Mentor 2019-20. Solid waste (SW), is now commonly recognised as a global threat that is unconstrained by boundaries and new international solutions/agreements are called for. Ocean clean-up projects are collecting plastic which will add exponentially to land based waste. Waste material may be a resource, if it can be organised, repurposed and used; glass bottles, cans, plastic bottles or tyres. In addition, in areas where conflict or disaster has occurred, building materials can be scarce and using waste can be a solution, or a part of preparedness. Studies examine waste management in various scenarios; post conflict developing countries, recycling issues, waste placement alternatives and new definitions of the waste problem . Few academic studies explore proposals for direct reuse of waste material with earth/cob or changing their state. 


Building with Kersheef in Siwa Oasis.font>

Fiona Mckie. p



Description Kersheef is a type of rock salt which is an amalgam of salt, mud and sand it is mined from the ground in and around the Oasis. Kersheef is built in layers with mud as mortar. Siwa is part of the Quataar depression so lies below sea level. It was once part of a great shallow sea so fossils of shells and sea creatures can be found in the rocks and landscape. Building with Kersheef originates in the remoteness of the Oasis and the need for an available building material. So walls were built with Kersheef and palm and olive wood, which grow locally, for the ceilings.

Speaker I am a UK educated architect. I have been interested in mud buildings for many years and have spent time travelling in the Middle East looking at buildings, particularly in Yemen and Egypt. I have been building in Siwa, Egypt for the past sixteen years. Before coming here I was based in London mainly working on domestic projects. My interest in mud buildings began in the late 1970's when I spent time in Hassan Fahti's village of New Gourna in Luxor, Egypt, and where an architect friend build a mud brick house with domes and vaults and instigated my interest and passion for mud buildings. 


Retrofit materials decision making – A case study of a 17 th Century Cumbrian farmhouse.

Amy Hield. p



Description As owner Amy will take participants through her family’s journey of materials decision making from favouring lime to choosing clay, with some conventional choices. Exploring factors of:
The Physical Building - Hygroscopic needs and wall construction, ceiling heights and foundations (or lack of them).
Availability of Materials and information – Will touch on the vested interests of materials suppliers providing information and advice, and the difficulties for vernacular materials without monetary value to gain search engine priority.
Acquisition of Skills – Challenges and joys of working with local trades people, trial and error and finding a community of interest.
ThThe results – In terms of building health and individual and community development.

Speaker Amy Hield has renovated her 17th C farm house in North Cumbria, bringing it from an EPC of D to B, is an MSc student of Green Building with the Centre for Alternative Technology and works as a Home Energy Adviser for Cumbria Action for Sustainability. She is particularly interested in individualised assessments considering buildings, their locality and occupants to identify the lowest environmental impact, highest social and cultural value energy saving retrofits. Amy began working with lime in 2015, slaking quicklime produced in South Cumbria, and making use of perlite and hemp in insulating plasters. But with confidence and knowledge began exploring vernacular materials in her immediate vicinity, producing clay and cow dung plasters from local materials. This personal learning process illustrates her interest in empowering individuals, connecting with their physical locality, independent of commercial or complex production processes. 


Building trust, cooperation and change through JUMP!

Becky Little and Rowland Keable.




Description The JUMP! Project,



Climate Change Housing: A new form of cob and tyre design: a call for
volunteer designers.

Tim Baddeley. p



Description Tim will introduce a roundhouse for the world’s poor, made of car tyres, hazel rods and cob, with a green roof. The house should be cheap (say $100), insulated against heat and cold, water storing and earthquake proof. It is a cavity wall cob house that stores water in tubular tanks in the wall. It works by creating tension between hazel rods, tyres and baling twine/nylon rope. The cob covers the structure inside and out. The lightweight reciprocal roof uses a combination of plastic membrane troughs and tyre treads as a covering, the troughs feeding water to tanks in the wall. Covering is either sedum or irrigated grass. We need a team of experimenters to take some of the basic ideas to start the process. The aim is to produce a range of houses, from a basic living unit to a smaller and cheaper Earthship. We want people experimenting around the globe; with organisations helping to communicate that evolutionary process. A possible timetable: the talk in November raises consciousness and produces volunteers; In the Spring we could build a small pilot building and explore techniques (possible sites: Castle Cary, Bristol and Brighton). Once the techniques are clarified we could build a good one at CAT.

Speaker Since 2000 Tim has been working on ways to integrate used car tyres into earth-friendly building.r>Billions of tyres are being burnt each year around the world, and his aim is to design forms of housing for Climate Change that can exploit this free resource. Since 2015 he has been working with the University of the West of England (Environmental Science and also Engineering faculties) to develop the ideas. Various pilots have been built to test the performance of tyre parts, most notably a clay-covered (water storing) cavity wall; a lightweight irrigated turf roof with tyre tread support; a cheap suspended floor; tyre windows; a strong cable made from tyre rims. We also have computer modelling of tyre strength, eg. pliability, compressive and tensile strength. 


COB BALE CONSTRUCTION - Earth slip pre-coated straw bale for
efficient labour based construction, tailored to community building in South Africa.

Andy Horn. p



Description Traditionally straw bale construction involves plastering the walls once the bales have been erected into place. In more developed countries the plasters are often sprayed on. This requires machinery and skills that are scare in developing economies like South African. So both from an ecological perspective, as well as from the need to create local employment opportunities and build self-reliance, labour based plastering methods are preferred. However, plastering onto a straw surface can be very time consuming and the results often far from satisfactory, where the walls still sound hollow and
require lots of mesh reinforcing to first stiffen up the surfaces.
In response the author has developed a system that combines the durability and solidity of cob with the speed and insulation of straw bale by using an earth slip pre-coated straw bale plastering system. When one uses this cob-bale method, the speed of it is such that one can complete sections of the wall panel by panel in a single day. As such the walls are also immediately better protected against any risk from fire or rain during construction. Cob bales are of a much more solid and stable nature, where one is able to get the base coat to penetrate 70mm or so into the surface of the bale with a minimum of effort. The speed and solidity of this system is particularly attractive for participatory building processes.

Speaker Qualifying as an architect at the University of Cape Town in 1995, he presented at South Africa’s first Sustainability in the Built Environment Conference, in 1998 “a Manifesto for Green Architecture – 6 broad principles for a greener architecture”, which formed the basis of his practice; ECO DESIGN – Architects & Consultants. Widely recognised for his pioneering work in the field of green building in the South African context, with a special focus on using local natural & recycled building material & community participatory processes, Horn has acquired a number of awards including, a 2004 Sustainable Building Best Practice Award in 2005, the Silver medal in the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction in the Africa & the Middle East region & qualified as one of 15 finalists in the 2006 Global Sustainable Building Holcim awards. He has served a wide range of clients from all around Southern Africa, including governmental, institutional & NGO based clients, the resort & leisure market as well as residential & owner builder clientele. He has written numerous articles, published papers & exhibited both locally & internationally. He also gives lectures & holds participatory design charrettes as well as facilitating straw and earth building workshops. 



Tom Morton. p



Description CobBauge

Speaker Tom



Fighting the dark side: How can we maintain and
increase the use of natural non-toxic plastic materials in buildings?

Dr. Tom Woolley.



Description Crowood Press have asked me to write an up to date version of my 2006 book Natural Building. As before I will outline all the many natural building methods and materials including earth with as much up to date information on practitioners, sources of supply and examples/case studies. My talk will outline this I will also discuss the problems faced in getting acceptance of natural materials within mainstream, construction. Despite what is known about bad indoor air quality, fires like Grenfell and plastic waste, most architects and their clients prefer to specific petrochemical based materials, despite the damage that this does to the planet.I will talk about the reasons for this, evidence of the activities of the “dark side” and
what we can do to win people over.

Speaker Tom Woolley B.Arch., PhD is an architect and environmental researcher living in County Down Northern Ireland and working for Rachel Bevan Architects. He is internationally known for his work on sustainability, construction and energy policy. He was Professor of Architecture at Queens University Belfast, a visiting Professor at Anglia Ruskin University and the Centre for Alternative Technology.He has published on construction, planning, housing, green architecture and healthy buildings, including the Green Building Handbook, Natural Building, Hemp and Lime Construction and Low Impact Building, Building Materials, Health and Indoor Air Quality and most recently Thermal Insulation Materials.
He runs regular CPD sessions for architects, public sector, environmental and energy groups and helps other architects write specifications for award winning projects. He carries out research and consultancy on the circular economy, innovative sustainable construction methods including timber frame, hempcrete and off site construction.
Tom is a consultant to ECOS, the European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standards and represents them on a range EU sustainability standards working groups.