Two courses with places available:
Course 1: Friday 3 – Sunday 5 April 2020
Course 2: Friday 17 – Sunday 19 July 2020
This three-day straw bale building course runs from 9.00am to 5.30pm at Earthship Brighton in Stanmer Park, Brighton.
Building with straw bales – a cheap, natural, healthy and low impact way of making your own house. This is a practical building course and involves lots of hands-on workshops.
What will the Building with straw bales course cover?
Learn how to build a straw bale structure. This intensive three-day straw bale building course is designed to inspire you and give you the basic skills required for straw bale construction. The course covers building walls with straw bales and basic carpentry. We will try to avoid power tools and people of all abilities are welcome. You will also learn about the environmental and practical benefits of constructing buildings using straw bales.
During the course you will learn:
- How to build straw bale walls
- How to work with straw bales, including shaping, cutting & tying
- Learn about detailing for doors and windows, and how to construct roof structures.
- Examine existing straw-bale buildings, built using different methods
Learn how to render with clay and lime on our Rendering on straw bales course.
How Straw bale building supports permaculture principles
In permaculture, we aim to use renewable resources, and so building a house of straw makes perfect sense.
Many people are amused by the idea of straw bale buildings, but, when properly built and maintained, they can last hundreds of years and are less flammable than wooden structures.
Who is the Building with straw bales course for?
This course is open to anyone aged 16 or over. It will be of interest to architects, planners, builders and engineers, as well anyone thinking about building their own home. It is suitable for complete beginners, as well as those who are familiar with eco-building and want to know more.
Learning methods and outcomes
This is an intensive practical and theoretical course; expect long days of hands-on work with short theory sessions, but also lots of fun. By the end of the course, participants will have an overview of straw bale building, know the basics of designing a straw bale building and have the practical skills to build a straw bale structure. Course participants who complete the entire course will receive a certificate, which will be sent via email after the course.
What some of our course participants have gone on to accomplish
See photos of a building project completed by one of our participants, using what he learned on the course.
Another former course participant has gone on to build a straw bale house in Africa and credits the course for giving him the confidence to tackle the project. Read his blog.
Ian Brown is the main tutor and has been teaching low impact building and sustainable construction for many years. He currently teaches construction at City College Brighton. He has built various low impact projects and specialises in straw bale building.
Watch Ian’s presentation Green architecture day 2015.
Stanmer Park (near University of Sussex)
South East England
Get directions to Stanmer Park.
If you intend to book accommodation, please check availability before booking a place, as accommodation in Brighton can be hard to find, especially over the summer months.
Get details on local accommodation and Brighton Permaculture Trust supporters who can provide accommodation in their homes.
No prior reading is required, but here are some suggested websites and books:
Fees include tuition, handouts and refreshments.
- £340 – Sponsored/organisation rate
- £340 – Individual income more than 25k/yr
- £285 – Individual income 18-25k/yr
- £230 – Individual income less than 18k/yr
- £140 – Individual, concessionary rate (check eligibility)*
* Concessionary places are limited. If places are not available check back two weeks before the course/event as more may be available then.
We endeavour to make our courses and events affordable to all. Unfortunately, we do not receive any external funding for most of these and rely on large amounts of voluntary input.
See the cancellations and refunds policy.
Booking the Building with straw bales course
Booking is essential, as most of our courses/events are fully booked weeks in advance. However, if places are still available, then bookings can be made until midday the day before the course/event. A place is not secured until we have received the requested payment.
Paying for your place
If you have completed the booking process but you haven’t received a confirmation email from us please contact us to check your booking has gone through.
If you are booking within two weeks of the event, or the event is nearly full, you will not have the option to pay by cheque or BACS. Instead, you will need to pay immediately using a credit/debit card or PayPal.
Be certain that you understand ALL the information on this page, then:
"It couldn't have been a more perfect building. The whole park and the community projects all around were a great setting for a natural building course. Ian was down to earth and very approachable."
"One of the best seminars I've ever attended in my life. Ian was very clear and to the point. Not too complex and not too easy. Good presentation skills to keep it lively. The techniques learned will be very useful for me."
"The amount we learnt in the time was surprising, especially as it was fun and a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone used their experience and skills to help others. Great people, great team led and tutored brilliantly by Ian."
"The instructor was brilliant. Very knowledgeable, great easy-going teaching style. The substantial hands-on content was the best part."
"The principles were communicated in a very straightforward way with a really positive 'can do' approach which was hugely empowering and confidence building."
"Ian and the entire crew were engaging, enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable about straw bale building. They answered questions freely and patiently."
"I started the course full of excitement and finished the course exhilarated and feeling very confident that my project was certainly achievable. Thank you all so much, and the fun we had was a bonus."
"As an intensive 3-day course, all the steps of the process are covered with practice and talks, but it feels very relaxed."
"The atmosphere in the group was very positive and lively, possibly helped by the tutor being very patient and funny."
"Wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people + those from different walks of life. Sense of camaraderie fantastic, as was the commitment to getting across the most important points in a relatively short space of time."
"Ian's and Mischa's passion for what they do are both inspiring and contagious. It was a privelege to have them as our tutors."
"Ian was great; took every opportunity to cram more knowledge in but in a light-hearted way; friendly, approachable and knowledgeable - born teacher! Thoroughly enjoyed it all and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested. Hope to get a chance to put it all to use before too long!"
"I was very impressed with Ian's knowledge and teaching style. Enjoyed it a lot. The balance of theory and practical work was very good, and it was easy to get hands on experience of some key skills."
"Inspiring & real! I can see it easily happening in my life."
"Everyone was so friendly and open - the tutors, the volunteers and the participants - and this made it really easy to learn everything too."