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Earthen Building Workshop (22-28 Jun 2015)


What: Intensive service-learning workshop

Topic: Earthen building methods & techniques

Where: Dharmalaya Institute in Bir, HP, India

When: 22-28 June 2015 (must attend from the beginning)

Language: English (with Hindi translation if needed)

Facilitators: Mark Moore, Sidney Rosario, Sarthak Tapasvi, et al.

Description: Week-long, residential service-learning programme at the Dharmalaya Institute providing hands-on training in traditional, eco-friendly earthen building techniques of the Himalayas. Learn by doing, in the real-world context of helping to build a few new structures on the Dharmalaya campus. Activities will depend on the needs on site (and the weather), but are likely to include earthen renders (mud plasters), foundations and plinth, stonework, and possibly other methods and techniques of earthen building.

What is Vernacular Eco-Architecture? See this page for an introduction.

After introductions, orientation, and general overview of the programme, we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on several earthen structures that are in various stages of construction. The main focus during this programme will be on plastering and weatherproofing our newest buildings so they will be protected from the rains. The work might include mud plasters, foundation work, stonework, and possibly other techniques. We may do some water flow management as well, in preparation for the coming rainy season.

Workshops and groups sessions may include the following (depending on weather and the needs of the site):

  • Hands-on education in traditional earthen building methods of the Himalayas
    • Earthen renders (mud plasters)
    • Foundation and plinth work
    • Other natural building materials and methods (e.g. stone, bamboo, wood, etc.)
  • Natural landscaping and water management

What to expect:

  • Practical, hands-on training focus (no theory classes in this workshop).
  • Opportunities to learn traditional methods by working alongside village artisans.
  • You will be working with your hands and body for approximately six hours per day on most days of the programme, so it is recommended to be in reasonably good physical fitness when you arrive, and to bring work clothes.
  • Beautiful, rustic, village setting with a simple lifestyle.


Rs 1000 per day (Rs 7000 total) including comfortable tent accommodation and healthy meals (with private rooms available at additional cost). For low-income participants, a limited number of work-study scholarships are available (please contact us for details).

Important Information

Before you pack for your trip to Dharmalaya, please read the very important information on our Visitor Info page and our FAQ. If you have a specific question that is not answered there, contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer.

NOTE FOR STUDENTS: This is not a certificate course. It is an introductory workshop offered for the benefit of those who sincerely wish to learn about traditional earthen building, not for credentials but for the sake of gaining understanding and experience in a real-world situation. Experiential learning is its own reward. If you are looking for a certificate course, there are plenty of those elsewhere.

Registration & Deposit

Enrolment in this workshop is limited, so advance registration and 50% nonrefundable deposit (Rs. 3500) are required. Registrations are confirmed only after receiving the deposit, on a first-come-first-served basis. To request registration, use this form. When we receive your registration, we will reply with further instructions and information. The remaining balance of Rs 3500 will be payable upon arrival at Dharmalaya Institute.

To make a deposit securely via credit card or PayPal (after registering and confirming availability with us), click the button below:

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