Spectacular Vernacular

Well hello planet earth, Gonzo here, comin’ atcha with some delicious thoughts on Natural Building’s role in the world of building conservation and preservation…

I came to Aprovecho to explore the relatively new and exciting progressive movement of Natural Building, but after a few weeks it became clear that the key to Natural Building (for me at least) is making the best of what you’ve got around you. Essentially, I love the idea of using only materials that you have dug up, chopped down, extracted, sheared or made (or are lucky enough to know someone who can) in your local area. This approach to building is now referred to as ‘Vernacular Architecture’, and it just so happens I am a certified Vernacular Architect of the Cascadia Institute of Vernacular Architecture!
What interests me most is that this is in no way a new phenomenon. People have had to build with what is around them until very recently, when we invented the means of moving large quantities of materials from one place to another at a high cost to our wallets and our environment. What’s more, this, along with standardisation in the construction industry after World War 2, led to the loss of many of these building craft skills.
Being an Englishman, Historic Building Nerd, aspiring Builder and Vernacular Architect, I thought I would bring all my passions together in my time at Aprovecho to increase my knowledge of historic building techniques in the hope to take these skills back to the UK and get to work on our enormous, crumbling historic building stock!

To do this I have decided to focus my efforts in three areas:

1) Wattle and Daub

I will be harvesting all Wattle materials from the Aprovecho site, then covering it in the most local manure I can find! It will then be finished with an earthen plaster from clay harvested from the Aprovecho.

2) Dry Stone Walling

I will be building a dry stacked retaining wall in front of the playhouse, using bedrock extracted while digging the foundation of the site.

3) Lime Plaster


Myself and a few other Pacific Northwest Vernacular Architects will be daubing and lime platering the exterior of the bamboo yurt we built back in the summer.  We will also be undertaking repair works to the interior lime plaster after learning lessons from our previous attempt!
So that’s what i’m up to for the next couple of months!  Any thoughts/questions/advice would be much appreciated either through this blog or to gonzothemudman@gmail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you all!