Shelter Series Through the Years

Since 2011 Aprovecho has been constructing 200 sqft. structures as part of its hands-on educational curriculum teaching students from around the world how to design and build using locally-sourced, non-toxic materials.  The first two structures were built as natural building demonstrations on Aprovecho‚Äôs 40 acre campus.  For the last four years Aprovecho has been building Farm Offices on sites throughout the Southern Willamette Valley demonstrating a need for infrastructure and a commitment to sustainable farming practices.  By supporting local farms with affordable infrastructure, Aprovecho hoped to support the growth and resiliency of the local food system.  In 2017 Aprovecho expanded its criteria for selection to any individual, business or nonprofit working towards a more sustainable and healthy Southern Willamette Valley.  Read more and see pictures of past projects below.

*important note: though all buildings from 2011-2016 were built within Lane County’s requirement for structures exempt from permitting all techniques used have a specific code associated with them and can be built with a permit if  necessary. 


The Playhouse – 2011

The very first Shelter Series resulted in this clerestory hybrid structure found on the Aprovecho campus.  The primary support structure is composed of a timber-framed Japanese wind brace and a post and beam round pole truss.  Wrapped in a variety of different wall systems, the Playhouse contains straw-clay, strawbale, chip-slip, hemp-lime and cob.  A local clay based plaster covers the outside walls as well as a lime plaster splash guard around the bottom.  The interior is finished with a clay paint.  Note the partial stone foundation made from on-site rocks and the living roof topping the low side.  This structure is used as a play structure for kids.


The Boathouse – 2012

This demonstration natural structure on the Aprovecho campus features an ascending hexagonal spiral accented with round pole rafters and a timber frame core.  The walls are made of straw-clay, strawbale, chip-slip, or cob topped with either an earthen or lime plaster.  Though the unique shape is a pleasure to experience now, it was a real challenge at the time with many student hands involved in its completion.  Aprovecho uses this structure for various storage.

BR Farm Office – 2013BRF Office

The first off campus build was an improvement on the clerestory design bringing more doors and windows to the south side for increased light and an overall feeling of openness.  Featuring an impressive all stone foundation, this farm office sits on a mostly dry-stacked (except for where the timbers meet) wall built with local quarry stone.  This was the first year the timber frame was exposed to the outside otherwise this structure contains all the building systems described above.  This structure is used by the farm as an office.

V Farm Office – 2014

V Farm OfficeAnother farm office was constructed in 2014, this time featuring a 14′ x 14′ square footprint and a timber framed gable roof with round pole perlins.  Based on the immense effort to construct the all the stone foundation in 2013, this design featured concrete piers in the corners bookending a stone foundation along the walls (still a lot of work!)  The wall systems for this structure were limited to straw-clay and chip-slip though there is an eye-catching bottle brick wall section.  Using timbers and lumber milled from Aprovecho’s sustainably managed forest this farm office features a knife and fork timber frame joint at the peak.  The farm uses this structure as an office.

National Freedom Farms

NF Farm Studio – 2015

One of the simplest designs from the Shelter Series, this farm studio is a 10′ x 20′ rectangle with a single pitch shed roof.  By placing the door in the middle of the wall the interior space is nicely divided into two distinct sections.  There are many custom Round Windowand distinct features to this studio such as the all black exterior clay plaster and the all white interior clay plaster, the round opening window and the heavy wooden door made from reclaimed wood and locally smithed hinges.  The all window walls are a treat as well – especially beneficial for this building’s use as an art studio.  Once again we see a timber and round pole structure wrapped in a straw-clay and chip-slip wall system.  An earthen floor saturated with linseed oil finishes it all off.

Sky Lodge – 2016

Pictures coming soon