Wikipedia's short definition of cob: "Cob is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements." Most cob oven construction takes less than a day and costs less than $100 to build a pretty amazing oven. You can go with the traditional dome look or be creative and sculpt a masterpiece for your garden that is not only beautiful to look at, but extremely useful as well. Cob ovens have little impact on the environment and save a ton in energy usage and cost. Once your oven is built, you start the wood fire in it 2 - 4 hours before the actual cooking. Once the wood has turned to hot coals you scrape it all out, and start baking! The heat from the initial fire will last hours and you can actually bake several things throughout the course of the day. And not just breads and pizzas...no no no. You can cook just about anything you want in a cob oven, even dehydrate fruit and herbs..;)
From Kiko Denzer's
site: "Earthen ovens make beautiful food, and perform as well as the fancy $4000 Italian ones! Pizza cooks in 3 minutes; a whole menu can follow: Start with bread or roast fish, meat, and vegetables, casseroles and slow-cooked soup or stew, desserts, steamed bread, or overnite rice pudding. Then, dry fruit, or your next load of firewood (or even your wet shoes!) Wood-fired, retained heat technology is universally proven. The full, round shape is a naturally elegant work of art in the tradition of Southwestern 'horno' and Mediterranean 'beehive' ovens. Or sculpt a fire-breathing beast, or a bird-oven with benches!"
Not only does cob make a great building material for ovens, but actual buildings work just as well. It is an ancient way of building homes and shelter for humans and animals alike. They hold up well in various climates and temperatures; and the insulation properties of a cob structure make it function amazingly well throughout the seasonal changes. The U.K. is a great example of older cob construction where many of the old farm buildings and houses in areas such as Devon and Cornwall being composed of cob. In today's world, architects are taking the idea of cob to new levels with the newfound love of green building. It is easy, economical and amazingly creative.
Here are just a few examples of some amazing cob structures:
A cool cob oven.
This is actually a yoga studio.
This is a great shed! I really love this one. City Farmer
Some interesting sites to check out:
That's just a few that I've run across. As my research continues, I know I'll be giving more mini-lectures here about the benefits of building with cob. It is really exciting, and something we, as a family, can all take part in during the entire process of construction.