Annie Beedy and her business partner Cambria Goodwin are on a mission to make ancient cob homes—made from dug up subsoil, water, fibrous organic material, and any other found materials like gravel or stray brick—popular.
The duo is behind Permanent Culture Project, a series of permaculture-based workshops held nationwide that walk the average homeowner through building a backyard home for a fraction of the typical price. And one that is eco-conscious, custom made, and adorable to boot.
Beedy says she learned how to make cob homes here in the Pacific Northwest years ago. At their upcoming 3-hour intensive weekend workshops in Milwaukie, folks can learn how to build the tiny homes from this ancient material. In fact, in addition to incredibly strong, cob is one of the first known building materials in the world, with cob buildings dating back to 13th century still standing in the United Kingdom. Best of all, Beedy says, it’s one of the most affordable, utilizing the land you already own as the primary source of building material.
“It's a very accessible and ancient technique, but we're putting a modern design lens on that," she says. "It’s just ten by twelve feet, but they feel way more spacious with the built-ins."
The non-toxic homes may be small but by going underneath the size requirements of a typical ADU, the landowner can save a bundle in permit fees. Plus, half the fun is in designing spaces into the home from benches and window seats to shelving and sleeping areas—negating the need to bring in furniture.
"This one will have a sleeping loft and tons of light," she says of the design. "It's going to be a very modern, clean, bright and beautiful little building."
The demonstration house will be built in Milwaukie on a plot of mixed residential/commercial land which is also the site for Aldercrest Sauna—a small spa where LMT and esthetician Kim Legler gives massages and custom facials. Beedy says the sessions will walk you through the different types of plasters, finishings, and room planning with the goal of you being able to build your own by the time you leave.
“It's a total alternative that people don't know about," says Beedy. "I really feel like—especially now at this time with such income disparity and the climate crisis—this is such a timely subject."
Saturdays/Sundays, August 10, 11, 17, 18, $75 for 3 hour workshop