Colloqui and Gatherings


To see photos and an excellent article about the 2008 International Natural Building Colloquium visit Kelly Hart’s site, and Mark Piepkorn’s site.

What’s the difference between a “Gathering” and a “Colloquium”?

A Natural Building Gathering is intended to welcome all interested in Natural Building to learn from presenters, through lecture and hand’s-on experience. Lots of building usually happens and the curious to the passionate come together to get dirty, build community and learn. These events are usually organized regionally, bioregionally, or locally.

Natural Building Colloquium etymology

Latin colloquium, from colloqui to converse, from com- + loqui to speak. The originators of the Natural Building Colloquium chose the name because this ancient definition matched the intention of the original gathering. That is, Natural Builders coming together to talk, to share, and to meet. This event has very few building projects and is generally organized by private invitation to people working in or integrally supporting the movement.

Natural Building Colloquium History

In 1994, the Cob Cottage Company organized the first Alternative Building Colloquium, inviting Natural Builders and teachers from around the country to spend a week together in Oregon. The idea was for these leaders to meet each other, to share the building techniques they knew best, and to begin to join their various philosophies and experiences into a more cohesive system of knowledge.

During that gathering, and the annual Natural Building Colloquia that have followed at sites around North America, hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds attended workshops on wall building systems ranging from adobe to wattle and daub/ roofing techniques including sod and thatch; and foundation systems including the rubble trench, dry stone, and rammed earthbags.

Through lectures, slides, and demonstrations, innovators presented their work with structural testing and building codes; composting toilets and graywater systems; designing with natural forces; co-housing; creating sacred space; and a hundred other topics. The energy and enthusiasm of the group were expressed physically in the construction of ornate timber frames, experimental straw bale vaults, and multi-colored clay murals. Ideas and techniques collided and merged, coalescing into hybrid structures including a straw bale/cob dome and a straw bale/cob/light-clay/wattle and daub cottage on a stone and earthbag foundation.

From the seed of these colloquia, a new movement has been born. The many disparate efforts to relearn ways of building with local materials and adapt them to modern needs have been brought together into a single conceptual basket with an easily understood name: ‘Natural Building.’

From The Art of Natural Building, Introduction by Michael G. Smith. Used with Permission.