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Natural Building within the Urban Jungle — Portland

April 29, 2011

I was amazed when I found the first cob bench in Portland. Cob, a natural building mixture compiled of straw, sand and  cow manure (gravel or mud — all depending) has the ability to up-stand rainy weather for 5-800 years — as seen in England’s heritage homes. Best of all, it is one of the most malleable building materials as its kinda like working with clay.

Creatively, cob takes the gold metal. Its like making a sand castle and by  inserting found objects like glass bottles, PVC piping or even found toys, you can create whatever you want. These benches use left over lumber or branches to create coverings to shelter them from rain, which is smart — especially if you have never before played with the material.

And I’ve gotta say, Portland wins for this Mermaid sculpture, as I think its still illegal for females to go topless in Oregon.

Many back-to-the-landers (or people who are working towards having a relationship with the land and their food) are using this structural material to build homes on their property. As you can imagine this building technique is useful as it is super easy to create and inexpensive. The “Tiny House Blog” has a great article on creating a small cob house. ( )

Note: You can probably find a lot of these materials for close to FREE. And who doesn’t like FREE.

In urban communities there is still the option for FREE materials. I’ve thought many times that in cities like Victoria, where the tourist district is full of horse trolleys, or Ottawa/Toronto, where horse cops roam open streets and back alleys, you could find a great amount of horse manure. But be careful if you decide to scape the black stuff off of sidewalks; you may be stealing city property. I haven’t figured out if it still belongs to the police after the excrete — strange but true.

For more information on cob benches in Portland visit Living Earth Structures ( As a note of inspiration, yes, people have been able to make money (yes, $$) off of building with environmental regenerating building materials. Its AMAZING!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2011 10:03 pm

    I have seen these benches around town, but I didn’t know they were made from cob. Next time I see one, I’m going to check it out more. Thanks!


  1. Natural Building within the Urban Jungle — Portland (via Becoming Resilient) « Ignorance is Bliss

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