I was living on Vancouver Island, BC Canada when Ann and Gord Baird started building their cob home in 2007. I occasionally checked into their website and blog to hear about their local progress in building their model of sustainability. Tom Cruickshank of Harrowsmith Magazine covered a great story in June 2010 saying, “It’s probably the most ambitious cob house ever built in Canada and with its solar array and inherent eco-friendliness, it’s certainly one of the greenest houses of any kind. Ann and Gord Baird built it with their bare hands.”
Their house utilized the “100 mile architectural diet” using the most local material of all…dirt. Sand, straw and clay mixed on site by the Bairds along with employing a minimum of lumber. “Eighty percent of the lumber is cobbled from demolition sites; 10% came from local sawmills and another 10% – mostly plywood – came from conventional sources. They family slept in a trailer parked nearby while building their dream home and apart from being too cold, too hot, too humid and too stuffy….there wasn’t a natural material in sight. “Everything was made of highly processed stuff: plastic, metal, synthetic carpets and vinyl. It went against everything we stand for.”
In the Harrowsmith article, the Baird’s say cob’s best assets are it’s eco-friendliness, affordability, acoustics and air quality. “Like an egg, cob is at it’s structural best in curvilinear shapes, so lends itself to free-form architecture. There isn’t a square corner in the house. No standard rooms; no straight lines; you can add a window here, move a door there, as you go along. It’s really great self-expression for a builder.” This was balanced with plenty of logic and practical considerations…the perfect balance for creative success and another home-run example of the art of resourcefulness.
Check out the article yourself (pdf): Harrowsmith Country Living June 2010