Natural Building

Clay, straw, stone, wood.

“Natural building is necessarily regional and idiosyncratic. There are no ‘right’ answers, no universally appropriate materials, no standard designs. Everything depends on local ecology, geology and climate, on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users.”

— Michael Smith, The Case for Natural Building


Sarah Machtey is a natural builder/designer currently living in the southeast corner of Vermont. She has been involved in natural building for over a decade. Most of her work has been in the Northeast U.S., but she’s also been involved in projects ranging from cobbing in Argentina… to strawbale in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province… to the annual community replastering of the world’s largest earthen mosque in Djenne, Mali.

For her, like many natural builders, building and art are not two separate things. Natural Building is the branch of ‘green’ building most concerned with artistic craftsmanship, centered primarily around beautiful unique homes hand-built of earth, straw, wood, and other locally appropriate materials. Her sculptural cob work has appeared in the books Using Natural Finishes and The Hybrid House, and in various publications including Environmental Building News and the Australian magazine The Owner Builder.