New Natural Building School

Permaculture magazine
Tuesday, 16th December 2014

A new school opens teaching a range of natural building techniques from cob to straw bales.

A new school teaching natural building techniques has opened in Yorkshire.

Students signing up to the School of Natural Building (SNaB) will learn how to use strawbales, timber, lime, clay, hemp, sheeps wool, woodfire board, brick, stone and other materials.

The school is being launched by the UK's leading company for strawbale building and design, Straw Works, who are based in West Yorkshire.

Twelve trainees have started on the first SNaB programme, each varying in age, gender and ethnicity. Each student takes their own path in the building technique they wish to follow making this course unique to each student.

One of the aims of the school is to provide quality training in the use of these materials, both in design and in practice, and to provide a pool of natural builders who are recognised as having professional levels of skill, knowledge and experience.

Another of the school’s aims is to encourage 50% women and 50% men trainees. That way Straw Works hopes to address the current situation where only 1% of the construction workforce are women.

Through the School of Natural Building (SNaB) the high standards that are currently associated with Straw Works’ work and courses will continue. The trainees will undergo a rigorous programme which will be taught, examined and certified by the School’s Principal, Barbara Jones.

Barbara discovered strawbale building in 1997 and in doing so found her passion. She was the first person in the UK to design and build strawbale council houses back in 2008 and currently works tirelessly to raise the profile of strawbale building.

‘In view of climate change and other factors such as health, cost and accessibility we need to raise awareness about how natural materials can be used effectively for construction,’ says Barbara.

Straw Works has no dedicated budget for the School, but just like Incredible Edible Todmorden, the need is here so we're going to do something about it! Todmorden will now also be the home of Attainable Sustainable, and the SNaB will be offering quality training to everyone who wants to be part of a healthy 21st century construction industry.

All courses are self-funded, but in time bursaries will be offered to those who would otherwise be excluded because of their financial situation. To join the school, email Jane at [email protected]. She will ask you to fill in a form about any previous experience and to send your CV. If suitable, we will then ask you for interview.

Find out more about Straw Works and the school at and here 


Further resources

Roundwood Timber Framing

Building with Cob


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