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Campsite Cob Oven Construction

| 3/12/2013 11:41:58 AM

cob campsite ovenWe recently found ourselves touring around the UK promoting the sustainable building experience anywhere people would listen. Through our travels, we met some amazing people, some of whom wanted our assistance building sustainable structures for various purposes. We ventured to Swattesfield Campground in Suffolk for this purpose. It was a mutually beneficial visit — we were needing a space to have some meetings and he had a community he wanted to bring closer together.

Here is yet another possible building project presented to you which requires no formal training, very little money, and techniques/methods that anyone can use. This blog intends to inspire you to take on a natural building project like this one. Don´t have fear if this is your first time working with these techniques and materials — it often for us also!

Swattlesfield Campground is frequented by many kinds of people for various reasons. The owner, Jonathan, wanted to introduce some activity which would draw people together. We had the perfect idea: pizza!  Food, especially food that requires waiting, has a tendency to attract people. And once humans have a good reason to be in the same place, the rest (socialization) has a tendency to just work.

We spent one day planning our cob oven design. It was to be built mostly out of cob (a mixture of sand, clay, water, and straw; amounts depend on the local resources), tires (we absolutely love using "trash" for build projects), rocks (of various sizes), fire bricks (the only cost of the build, and there really are not any other options), and love. And you always need love. 

The idea was to build the foundation out of two stacks of firmly packed tires. On the larger stack of tires we would build the oven, and on the other, a small preparation table. Experience cooking pizzas in a cob oven convinced us of the small table —  it allows people to create their pizzas, cook them, and enjoy them all in one space, keeping social interactions and enjoyment to the maximum. In other words, we created our design to suit the use of the oven.

cob oven construction

The oven would have a fire-brick-covered floor to do the cooking on and the dome would be made out of cob — very, very thick cob. The thicker the better here when the goal is to make lots of pizzas. The heat put off by the fire inside the oven takes longer to heat up the walls if they are thicker, but it also ensures that the walls keep releasing lots of heat inside the oven for many hours after the fire has been extinguished. We figured a sign reading "Pizzas for Hours" would be the best to see near dinner time. Once again, we are making sure the use dictates the design.

3/15/2013 7:33:09 PM

I wonder if you could cook corn on the cob?

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