Back in the early 2000’s Ben Falk of Whole System Design decided to build a cordwood classroom/workshop on the Island using only natural materials.  Ben worked through the Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute.   He gathered a type of wood that was considered a weed/waste wood and used for the framework and the cordwood infill.  He used sand  (never use salt water sand–it won’t bind with the lime) and he slaked his lime from seashells with a hand made pyre.

Ben Falk Caribbean shop_framing_cordwood

The post and beam framing was done timberframing style with mortise and tenon.  The students helped with all the construction activities.

Ben Falk Caribbean shop_door_elevation

Many fine designs were placed within the cordwood walls: seashells, bottles, wooden patterns, round portholes, etc.


The Prime Minister of the Island came to visit and to chisel a mortise.


Tying a mortise and tenon with a rebar pin.

biodiesel_bagsIn another natural building experiment, Bio diesel bags (filled with sand) were stacked between the posts, these are being used like an “earthship” and will be stuccoed/cobbed.  The earthbags were NOT used as the foundation for the cordwood building.  This is a separate experimental building.


Ben also experimented with stucco made of sand and hand slaked lime.  Here the stucco is covering the biodiesel bags.  The yellow strings are being used like straw, to grab and hold the plaster/stucco

Here is a brief bio about Ben Falk, M.A.L.D: Design, Planning, Systems Optimization.  Ben developed Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things.  He has been working out of Vermont for the past decade.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at  

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsReaders have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, Cordwood House Plans & Cordwood Shed Plans are the newest publications available from their ever-expanding online cordwood bookstore.”

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

Click on the picture to access the ordering information.  The DVD is an incredible bargain at $25 and the DVD is available for an immediate download! 

 Online Cordwood Bookstore