Cob is a natural building material made using mud, straw and lime that has been in use for millennia. Fireproof, earthquake-resistant and very inexpensive to build with, cob can be used to make stunningly creative homes, sheds, benches and wood-fired bread ovens. These 18 examples of cob creations illustrate the material’s beauty and versatility.
Three Cob Hobbit Houses
(images via: simondale.net, yearofmud, cob cottage co)
For those familiar with cob construction, these three houses represent the most recognizable form achievable with the medium. Cob lends itself wonderfully to rounded structures like the Simondale ‘hobbit house’ (top two images), a green-roofed cob house at the Dancing Rabbit Eco Village (below left) and another at the Cob Cottage Company in Oregon.
Stunning Cob Interior
(images via: greenbuildingelements)
There’s no end to the customization that’s possible with cob. Because cob is so easy to work with, even beginners can create staircases, niches, built-in benches, bookcases and other cob features in home interiors. This home, built by Meka Bunch of Wolf Creek, Oregon, is an incredible example of just how creative cob builders can get.
Cute Cob Cottage
(image via: greenvillages.co)
Is this cob cottage adorable or what? Built in a somewhat more modern design, this home features a curving roof, a second-floor balcony and chains that act as gutters and are also an interesting design detail. Stone is visible along the foundation; this helps to protect the cob from water damage.
Two Indoor Cob Fireplaces
(images via: firespeaking.com, onelessbrickinthewall.com)
Niches, bookcases and stairways aren’t the only interior details that can be sculpted with cob. You can make your fireplace out of cob, two, as illustrated by these two examples.
Cob Building at the Anam Cara Collective
(image via: cultureartist.org)
This sustainable cob house at the Anam Cara Collective in Asheville, North Carolina features lots of windows, a large wooden deck and solar panels for power. Anam Cara holds regular cob building workshops that teach participants how to work with this natural, inexpensive building material.
Adorable Cob Garden Shed
(image via: cityfarmer.org)
Not ready to take the plunge with a cob house? You could give a shed a shot. This one, located in Vancouver, Cananda, has a green roof covered in local vegetation. Its exterior was plastered with clay.
Traditional Cob Houses of England
(images via: supermac1961, buildsomethignbeautiful)
Cob homes are not a new concept; clay bricks have been used to create human dwellings for thousands of years. Cob in particular has been used to build houses in Great Britain at least since the 13th century. Many of those homes, with traditional thatched roofs, still stand today, and the style is experiencing a revival with companies like Build Something Beautiful using it for new construction.
The Hand-Sculpted House
(image via: tinyhouseblog)
This beautiful structure is home to Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley, authors of The Hand Sculpted House and co-owners of the Cob Cottage Company in Oregon. Though cob houses are often round, they can be built in any shape, with or without a wooden frame.
Four Fun Sculptural Cob Ovens
(images via: natural building, designbuildlive.org, ilovecob.com, dayonedesign)
A great way to practice with cob building is to construct a pizza oven. The book Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer explains how with step-by-step instructions, including recipes for wood-fired bread once your oven is done. These four ovens are great examples of cob ovens that double as outdoor sculptures.
Two Combination Cob Oven/Benches
(images via: mudsunfun.org, our ecovillage)
Cob ovens can also be combined with benches into one large structure. The benefit of creating a cob oven/bench combo is that in cold months, the oven will heat up the benches, making them a cozy place to enjoy the outdoors.