What are the Grounds for Building with Mud?
I visited Van Clothier in Silver City in December, 2020 as he was nearing completion of his house in Silver City that uses a form of puddled adobe construction called "cob." The word cob comes from an Old English root meaning "a lump" or "loaf." It's a traditional building technique using hand formed lumps of adobe (earth mixed with sand and straw). Self-supporting, load-bearing adobe walls are built by adding lumps of the cob, one handful at a time, creating a layer that you smooth out as you go. You build one layer on top of another, typically as much as one-foot high per day, until the walls have reached their full height. There's no need to put the adobe into forms and create bricks that first have to be dried in the sun. Since a cob building is one monolithic unit reinforced by straw, it has no weak straight-line mortar joints, making it stronger than brick or block. Walls can be curved and tapered to make them even stronger. Cob is very