Ready to start planning?

Design your life and your home for a sustainable future as you participate in a variety of elements in this 5 week journey.

First group starts July 15

At the core of this course is a series of zoom calls hosted by Elke Cole which build connection between participants and support the learning process . Max. number of call participants is 8. This is where feedback and ideas flow, and lot's of valuable practical advice gets passed on. 

On your own time, between callsslide presentations offer concepts and insights to help you  design a home that supports your life style. Assignments guide you in the process of discovering your real needs, and work toward a plan. You will gather information about materials through information blocks that you can access at any point in the course.

At the end of this course you’ll be able to continue working on your plans or bring your idea to a drafts-person to complete the work under your informed direction.
You’ll be ready to involve local builders in your process for cost estimation and support .
You’ll have a group of peers to stay connected and supported.
This course will help save time and money by helping you evaluate your choices and ideas with a reality check.

Course activities and outcome

  • Make a ‘sensitive’ site map with observations for decisionmaking

  • Evaluate passive solar placement

  • Choose the best building site on your property

  • Learn where to get information to help in planning

  • Sketch your first drafts and receive feedback

  • Make educated choices for materials

  • Build a model to help explore 3D space

  • Group calls connect and expand possibilities

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome and let's get started!

    • Greetings!

    • Pre-call assignments

    • Recommended reading & online resources

    • Zoom call #1 - link- Getting to know each other and the technology

    • Choosing natural.pdf

    • chart for planning stage

  • 2

    Where to build

    • Where to build

    • Assignment: Research the legalities for your site

    • Assignment: Start a list of support people

    • Download: Mapping your site checklist

    • Download: Exploring your solar window

    • Download: Choosing your site

    • Zoom call #2 - link- Where to build: identifying a good building site

    • Assignment : Make an observation map

  • 3

    Information Block: Natural Wall systems

    • Building with Earth : Part 1

    • Building with Earth, Part 2

    • Making mudbricks

    • Making compressed earth blocks in Cameroon

    • Overview of Earth building techniques

    • Other natural wall systems

    • Workshop video: Natural building with Elke Cole

  • 4

    Things we do and things we have

    • A fresh language for design

    • Assignment: Make a list of your needs

    • Assignment: Your furniture list

    • Zoom call #3 - link- progress check

  • 5

    A house is more than it's skin

    • Assignment: Ownership of space

    • Assignment: Spaces we use

    • Zoom call #4 - link- progress check

    • Concepts for design, part 1

    • Concepts for design, part 2

  • 6

    Information block: Good Hat and Good Boots

    • Foundations for natural homes.pdf

    • The Roof- a good hat.pdf

    • Systems for your natural home.pdf

  • 7

    Drawings and modelling

    • Getting started with drawing

    • Assignment: Bubble diagram

    • Zoom call #5 - link- share your first sketch

    • Assignment: build a simple model

    • Assignment : a floor plan!

    • Zoom call #6 - link- share your floor plan

  • 8

    Toward construction

    • About hosting a workshop

    • Closing remarks


Elke Cole

Elke Cole is a designer, builder and educator specializing in Natural Building. With a background in architecture she has coordinated Natural Building programs at O.U.R. Ecovillage on Vancouver Island, Canada and runs her consultation and design business Houses That Love You Back. Elke’s work takes her around the globe with projects in Africa, India, and Costa Rica. Her designs are based in Permaculture and value relationships between owners, builders and the natural environment presented at the site. Working with groups on design and leading workshops on building projects has earned Elke a solid reputation in the Natural Building field. Elke is available for consultation, architectural design and to facilitate natural building and design workshops.

Ready to join?

Sharpen your pencils, hold on to your dream , and let's get started