Learn to build a SUPER cool natural home!

Photo Credit: Return to the Forest

In our fast-paced world, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of planning for the future. Many urban centres currently focus on quick housing solutions rather than considering our environment and future by implementing green building design. If you look back in time, all buildings were built using the materials that existed on the land where the homes or buildings were built. They were very sustainable buildings because they used the materials from their immediate environment cutting out the need for transportation and manufacturing. They also used all eco friendly building materials since this was before the creation of man-made synthetic materials which have been made to save money and time. The only thing is, these building materials cause a lot of pollution and they contain chemicals that aren't healthy for the people who have to reside or function inside of these buildings. So smart businesses like Return To The Forest have decided to make a difference for the future of building by taking a few steps back and utilizing natural building methods from the past. With the help of local Mayan people from Guatemala and other places around the world, the builders of Return To The Forest have learned so much about green building design and how to implement eco friendly building materials into projects, and now they teach others how to do so too.

They have learned how to use plants like the Maguey cactus to make natural ropes and nets and how to create natural plaster with Nopal cactus. They also learned how to make Bajareque walls which uses bamboo and clay to create a strong and attractive looking wall. They blend these Mayan building practices with other natural building methods to create some of the most beautiful and sustainable buildings you'll ever see. They now teach courses that teach others about the amazing natural building materials out there as well as the techniques to build homes and buildings for all types of climates. The instructors include Charlie Rendall, Monika Goforth, Nathaniel Steinrueck, John Barrie, and Shad Qudsi. As well as native Guatemalans including Rodolfo Puzul, Francisco Mejilla, and Vicente Cuk among others who share their skills and talents with others. You can check out some of the awesome projects that they've worked on over the years since 2008 when they started up. The bamboo cabin is one of the smaller sustainable buildings they've created, and it shows how a home could be built. They implemented 8 wall building systems to see which one was the strongest and most affordable for homes in Guatemala. They used earth wall systems, lime fills, and natural plasters along side bamboo. The best method seems to be the lime fill with a wooden lath.

They have also worked on a sustainable building for the Organization for the Development of Indigenous Mayans which is a wonderful place that provides health services and education San Pablo and San Juan in Guatemala. One of their most architecturally complex buildings is the Seven Stars TaiChi Tao Temple building where TaiChi is taught. As well as The Yoga Forest which embraces and both the practice and teachings of Yoga and Permaculture together as one. One of the other sustainable buildings is the market pavilion which creates a great market space for local farmers and artisans to sell their food and art. It is made out of bamboo, and can also be used as a community centre for workshops, events and music. This was a part of their Bamboo Building Course where the students learned about all of the aspects of natural building. They learned about eco friendly building materials and natural finishes as well as how to choose a site and how to keep it thriving while building on it.***

Learn MORE at Return to the Forest


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