Oficina (Workshop)

Oficina (Workshop) – Colmeia

Expected Finish: May 2021       Designer: Daniel e Kiko       Construction: Equipe Eco Caminhos       Techniques: Eucalyptus, COB, Wattle & Daub      Size:  98 m2       Location: Nova Friburgo, Brasil


In 2019, we started the construction of our workshop here at Eco Caminhos using natural building (bioconstruction) techniques. With the evolution of environmental awareness, the movement to preserve native Brazilian forests has intensified and the use of reforested wood has been recommended. In this context, eucalyptus and pinewood are the most common replacements for hardwood and, in our case, we opted for eucalyptus wood to make our structure . In its final form, our workshop, fully integrated with the landscape, also provides space for accommodations and integrates the space with infrastructure for events and courses focused on natural building (bioconstruction) techniques.


Prereqs for a good Natural Building Project

  • Integration with landscape
  • Use of natural materials
  • Natural lighting indoors
  • Zero Humidity
  • Good thermal insulation for cold winter nights


3D Renders for the Oficina (Workshop):


User Experience

We, the Bijen family and volunteers from Eco Caminhos, are loving the workshop! The interior environment is very comfortable and well-structured for activities. On hot summer days, the interior is cool and on cold winter nights it 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 rooms warm. The workshop also benefits from great natural lighting during the day. It was made such that all internal environments receive sufficient natural lighting without need to turn on artificial lights. Another point that people often forget during construction is that a good drainage system prevents the environment from getting too humid inside. Cob walls also help with moisture because they “breathe” very well. We can leave the rooms closed for a week and still return to an environment without the smell of mold or moisture. Here we really are part of nature and we benefit from it.


Our Oficina (workshop) – a work in progress


  • Cob (also known as cobb): A building material comprised of subsoil, straw, and sand
  • Natural Plasters: For the interior walls, we use a plaster made with a lime, clay, sand, and straw mix. External walls have a plaster made with clay, sand, straw, bovine manure, and linseed oil. Areas more prone to getting wet make use of vintage ceramic tiles.
  • 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
  • Treated Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus has excellent physical-mechanical characteristics and becomes highly durable with normal industrial treatment (Autoclave). It is recommended for beams, rafters, and structural parts.
  • Natural Wastewater Treatment: We use a banana filter for black and grey wastewater filtering
  • Solar Boiler: We use a solar boiler for providing hot water
  • Solar Power: We use photovoltaic panels to generate energy for the workshop and accommodation. In fact, the solar system will provide for all of the farm’s electricity needs;
  • 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


Project Participants

The managing director and founder of the project is Bart Bijen. The designers of the project include volunteer Daniel Balcazar and master of construction Kiko. The construction 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.