Clayfest 2016

Clayfest 2016

18th – 23rd July 2016

More Info

Agrarian Earth

Earth Building’s relationship with land, tenure and society

Hello Earth Building enthusiasts, and welcome to this year’s EBUKI Festival and Conference was on the beautiful Cumbrian Solway Plain! Our theme explored the relationship between Earth Building and land, tenure and society, which sparked some interesting discussions.

Following last year’s tremendous success in Errol, Scotland, we were delighted to be holding 2016’s workshops, from 19th to 21st July, at the beautiful RSPB Campfield Marsh Reserve in Bowness on Solway, Cumbria.  This mind-blowing location was not only brimming with wildlife, but also LOTS of the local earth vernacular ‘Clay Dabbins’.

Workshop Info


Running from 19-21 July, the hands-on workshops were held at the RSPB Campfield Marsh Reserve, Bowness on Solway, Cumbria. Standard.

Clay Dabbin (Cob) Building

This year we were building a bird hide on the RSPB reserve, giving the opportunity to build a permanent structure from the ground up, and explore foundations, window construction as well coverings and finishes.

Earth Plasters

We’ll explore different substrates including cob, straw, lath, and even concrete, discussing and experimenting with various mixes, fibres and ratios, so you’ll have the understanding you need to make your own beautiful, natural and tactile earth plasters when you get home or on site!

Rammed Earth

Once again, Professor Rowland Keable will lead us in creating his Rammed Earth visions in three days of his ram jam spectacular!

Earth Floor Repair Masterclass

Earth Floors are seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate to alternatives such as limecrete, or worse…and we’re NOT happy about it.  We’ll be running a two day masterclass in the care and repair of earth floors, as well as how to replace them like for like if necessary.



Agrarian Earth: Earth Building’s relationship with land, tenure and society

Date: 22nd July 2016
Location: Burgh-By-Sands Village Hall

Speakers included:

PMessengerPeter is a consultant on Historic Building Conservation. He has a Master’s degree in Vernacular Architecture and the Conservation of Historic Buildings. Peter has over 40 years experience as a local authority Conservation Officer and have published articles on vernacular architecture and the conservation of earth buildings. He has also published articles on my own particular interests – the development of farm buildings and the conservation of Cumbria’s nationally significant clay buildings. Peter is a member of the Institute for Historic Building Conservation and is currently researching rural vernacular buildings in north Cumbria.  
Alex GibbonsAlex is a Cob Builder and Earth Plasterer based in the Midlands.  After a degree in Surveying, he undertook his Cob training in Oregon, USA at Aprovecho Education Centre.  While there, he focused his time on earth building and plastering, while teaching workshops and being part of the construction of two demonstration cabins.  On return to Europe, he undertook the repair of an 18th Century Cob Farmhouse in Normandy, and set up his own business ‘UnEarthed Natural Building and Conservation’.  He has now been accepted on to the William Morris Craft Fellowship with the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), making him the first Earth Builder to undertake the programme.  He is passionate about getting muddy, and loves to share his enthusiasm for building with earth with whoever will listen!
Claire GottA chartered civil engineer, Claire is Design Manager at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff working across the Rail, Residential and Com
mercial sectors.  Through her position on the Green Construction Board and the Institution of Civil Engineers Claire champions initiatives to encourage young people into engineering.  Her passion for sustainable positive change led her to co-found Cameroon Catalyst (CC), for which she was awarded an MBE.

CC promotes sustainable development in North East Cameroon by developing infrastructure projects to empower local communities and giving them the tools to continue to develop and grow after project completion. Each project is designed and fundraised-for by British students and specialists, before being built and delivered by local villagers and specialists in Cameroon. Between 2009 and 2015 CC delivered a range of projects in the village of Bambouti, including a health centre, school buildings, solar electrification hub and housing. The charity has now entered a new 5-year development programme addressing water and sanitation issues across the North East region.

dlI was first introduced to mud and stud when my wife and I purchased a Grade ii listed home in 1995. We were lucky enough to meet David Glew, a conservation architect, who then introduced us to John Hurd, a consultant and world lecturer in earth buildings, who we employed as a consultant, as this was my first listed building to work on. On seeing the quality of my work and passion I had for mud John gave me employment, which is how I met Rob Ley, a master craftsman.

It was on meeting these people I was openly given knowledge and skills, enabling me to work on listed buildings i.e. numerous mud and stud’s and churches. On my travels I met Anthony Goode DipBldgCon (RICS) whom I have worked with on many cob walls, cob houses, churches and castles, and of course mud and stud buildings.

I look forward to clayfest to talk about my favourite subject mud and stud. Hope to see you there

Karen GuthrieKaren Guthrie is a film-maker and artist based in the rural Lake District. The central theme of her diverse work is time, explored through material culture and personal and collective memory. Her latest film, the autobiographical ’The Closer We Get’ (2015), has won several international awards.  She was recently artist-in-residence at Hauser & Wirth Somerset and produced a soil-derived hydrosol (a kind of distillation) for the touring exhibition ’Soil Culture’, celebrating the UN’s 2015 Year of Soils.

More about her work can be found at

Stafford Holmes and Bee Rowan are consultants specialising in the use of traditional building materials and are visiting lecturers with various higher educational institutes. They promote the use of natural materials for construction through educational programmes, lectures and demonstrations, and have collaborated in developing a training of trainer programme in lime and lime stabilised soil for flood resilience in vulnerable areas of the world – successfully delivered in Pakistan and due next in Nepal. They are co-authors of the technical manual ‘Lime Stabilized Soil Construction’ 2015.

Stafford Holmes is an architect specialising in the care and repair of historic buildings, skilled in the use of regional building materials and building limes for conservation and sustainable construction. Director of the Building Limes Development Group, a former Chairman of The Building Limes Forum and a member of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). He provides consultancy advice and expert witness services. Stafford first carried out research and development of stabilized soils in West Africa in 1980 and is author of many publications on different limes and their use. He is co-author with Michael Wingate of the acknowledged ‘bible’ for lime practitioners ‘Building with Lime’ 1997.
Bee Rowan is Director of Strawbuild and has almost 20 years experience of working in sustainable construction materials, and of inspiring and teaching others to work successfully in this field. She and Strawbuild have developed many associates in these areas with whom they collaborate professionally. Strawbuild is a registered UK company and operates as a not for profit social enterprise, offering design, build and training in sustainable and high performance builds. Strawbuild is the lead partner in a passive certificated straw panel system, and has been lead partner in various European training partnerships developing accredited training programmes in sustainable materials.

I’m Camille Fontenelle, 32 years old. I was born and grown-up in la Manche county, wCamille-Hugo Fontenelle renderingest-Normandy – France. I studied Geography at university as a major subject and focused on homes, their inhabitants and ways of living.

I broadened my horizons with several back-packing journeys in the former Mesopotamia and Caucasus regions alongside with an interest in permaculture design courses. Getting my roots back in la Manche, I discovered the fantastic world of cob and realised that I’m massively surrounded my cob buildings around me.

I’ve done a vocational training about conservation of ancient buildings to understand them more. Then my enthusiasm for the Enerterre project, led by the Parc naturel regional des marais du Cotentin et du Bessin, drove me to bring my input to a win-win communal adventure.

My idea is to talk about this Enerterre project. This N.G.O. has been set-up four years ago in order to help low-resources and isolated families on the rural territory of the Parc naturel regional des marais du Cotentin et du Bessin. The idea is to create a network of volunteers wanting to come and learn vernacular conservation technics. By giving their hands, they help home-owners to conserve their houses, socialize and have a better living-condition in the daily life. The process of co-working with the beneficiaries is encouraged by a facilitator, a coordinator and the artisans involved on each construction sites.

Here is a link to the website of the Marsh Natural Park which is supporting it.

Here is a link about the Enerterre page and the short documentary shot on sites in 2014.

As an archaeologist Daniël specialised in the development of medieval longhouses in the north of the Netherlands. He is particularly interested in the design and construction of turf-walled buildings, which were the most important type of building in the old ‘Frisian’ coastal area in the 5th-7th century AD. These buildings had load-bearing walls, built entirely with salt marsh turves. In order to get a better understanding of how such high quality turf construction was achieved in the past, Daniël trained as a turf builder in Iceland and built a full scale reconstruction of a turf-walled byre. This archaeological experiment helped to identify and explain regional variation in the bonding systems that were used and which are very different from the Icelandic techniques. Daniël is currently in the process of finishing his PhD at the University of Groningen and setting up a business in archaeologically inspired eco-building.

Post – Conference Tours

On Saturday 23rd, out experts will be on hand to talk you through some of the mud building highlights throughout the Solway Plain…it’s your chance to pick their brains on new build and repair techniques! Tours are only available to those who attend either the workshops or the conference. More details available on booking.


Partners and supporting organisations:

Earth Building UK and Ireland
Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Mudwaller’s Union for Crafts and Conservation in Earth (MUCCIE)
Solway Coast AONB
Allerdale Council
Natural England
North of England Civic Trust