Colmeia Bioconstruction House

Bioconstruction house – Colmeia

Finished: 2017       Architects: Pedro Pizarro & Jerome Paumen       Construction: Eco Caminhos Team      Techniques: cob & wattle and daub       Size:  160 m2       Location: Nova Friburgo, Brazil     

Back in 2015, we started constructing our first natural building (bioconstruction) house right here on the Eco Caminhos farm. We wanted to build a house using natural and recycled materials. We wanted it to be integrated into the landscape, unlike the often square buildings in the region. And we wanted a great emphasis on user experience and user comfort – too often natural building emphasizes the technique but not the user who will live inside the house. This is the list of requests we set before designing the house:


House Design Presets

  • Integration with the landscape
  • Use natural materials and recycled materials
  • Natural lighting in the house
  • Living room and kitchen should have large windows to see the beautiful views
  • Zero humidity
  • Green roof
  • good thermal insulation for the cold winter nights.

User Experience

We, the Bijen family, are absolutely loving the house! It has a great indoor climate. On hot summer days, it is cool and fresh inside and on cold winter nights, the indoor climate is warm thanks to good thermal insulation. The walls accumulate heat during the sunny winter days and when the temperature drops at night, the walls keep the house nice and warm. Another great quality is the large number of windows. We can look at the mountains from our living room, kitchen, and even our bedrooms. The house is also very well-lit during the day. It is designed in such a way that every space gets sufficient natural lighting and we do not need to turn on any lights. Another thing that people often overlook when building a house is that the good drainage system prevents it from becoming too humid inside. The cob walls also help with humidity because they “breathe” so well. We can leave the house closed for a week and still come back to a home with no musty smell and humidity. Finally, we can see the top of our green roof from the 2nd floor. It feels like we really are part of nature and not some concrete block haphazardly placed in the middle of these beautiful, green mountains.




  • Cob (also known as cobb): a building material comprised of subsoil, straw, and sand
  • Wattle and Daub: A composite building method used for making walls and buildings in which a woven lattice of  Bamboo strips called wattle is daubed with cob
  • Green Roof:  green roofs are excellent for thermal insulation and, of course, look astonishing
  • Natural Wastewater Treatment: We use a banana filter to treat grey wastewater and an evapotranspiration basin for black waters
  • Solar Boiler: We use a solar boiler for providing hot water
  • Double Glass: For western countries this is not very special but in Brazil it is much rarer
  • Drainage: We have a drainage system under the stone wall foundation
  • Floor Insulation: We use expanded clay to prevent humidity infiltration and to insulate the floor
  • Positioning House Towards the Sun: For a healthy indoor climate, the direction your house faces is really important With our extremely humid summers and cool winters, positioning the house towards the sun (North) has proven essential


The wall of fame

The manager and initiator of the project is Bart Bijen. The architects of the project include Pedro Pizarro Villalobos and Jerome Paumen (studioPAS). The construction project leaders of this first house were Roger Bijen, David Gonzales, Marcio Cardinot, and Edson Cardinot. The building team was assisted by a large number of Brazilian and international volunteers who came to learn about and practice natural building (bioconstruction).



For people who want to learn natural building skills, we have different types of volunteer programs.