A guide for natural home design

for independent learners

Slide presentations offer concepts and insights to help you  design a home that supports your life style. Work steps 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 .

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

  • Learn where to get information to help in planning

  • Produce sketches

  • Make educated choices for materials

  • Build a model to help explore 3D space

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome and let's get started!

    • Course instructions

    • chart for planning stage

    • Recommended reading & online resources

    • Choosing natural.pdf

  • 2

    Where to build

    • Where to build

    • Work step : Make an observation map

    • Download: Mapping your site checklist

    • Download: Exploring your solar window

    • Work step: Research the legalities for your site

    • Work step: Start a list of support people

    • Download: Choosing your site

    • Request your first call?

  • 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

    • Work step: Make a list of your needs

    • Work step: Your furniture list

  • 5

    A house is more than it's skin

    • Explore: Ownership of space

    • Explore: Spaces we use

    • 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

    • Work step: Bubble diagram

    • Request a call?

    • Work step : a floor plan!

    • Work step: build a simple model

    • Request a call?

  • 8

    Toward construction

    • About hosting a workshop

    • You did it!


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 start?

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