Alternative Building

What Is Alternative Building?

"Alternative building" refers to construction methods that differ from mainstream modern architecture. They often use natural building materials, with a strong emphasis on sustainable design.


Recently, popular housing materials, such as treated lumber, synthetic insulation and certain paints (to name a few) have been exposed as harmful to both the environment and the inhabitants of the houses. There is no dispute over this issue. 

While green buildings most often include high technology as part of their design, alternative buildings more often depend on traditional designs (reflecting wisdom which has evolved over many generations) and creative use of locally available materials and limited resources. Indeed, some would say that "alternative building" is quite an odd phrase, considering that the strategies used to conserve energy and materials have been documented for millennia in some cases.


Practices such as adobewattle and daubmud-brickrammed earthearth bag and straw bale housing construction are alive and well. In some instances the houses are less expensive to build and maintain, healthier to live in and more sturdy and reliable than those made from "conventional" materials. 

From: Appropedia

Alternative Building Module Content
Building Methods

Graeme Scott, local entrepreneur, builder & co-director of the Living Wood Fair, leads you on an experiential journey of learning wattle & daub, mud-brick, and straw bale building as you build short walls onsite at the Centre. 

House Design
  • Sick vs healthy homes

  • Grey water systems

  • Waste systems 

  • Use of local, non-toxic materials

  • Alternative power systems

  • House design practicum

The module is 2-3 days/week over three weeks spread through the course allowing time for building and drying. Methods used are presentation, discussion, guest experts & hands on work. 


The Building Challenge

This module culminates in a day and a half building challenge.  Graeme will assign you a building project or two and will be on hand to guide you through it. Last time we built a composting toilet. This time there are rumours of bamboo being involved.