Cordwood on the Beach (Bermuda)

Back in the early 2000’s Ben Falk of Whole System Design decided to build a cordwood classroom/workshop on the Island using only natural materials.  Ben worked through the Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute.   He gathered a type of wood that was considered a weed/waste wood and used for the framework and the cordwood infill.  He used sand  (never use salt water sand–it won’t bind with the lime) and he slaked his lime from seashells with a hand made pyre.

Ben Falk Caribbean shop_framing_cordwood

The post and beam framing was done timberframing style with mortise and tenon.  The students helped with all the construction activities.

Ben Falk Caribbean shop_door_elevation

Many fine designs were placed within the cordwood walls: seashells, bottles, wooden patterns, round portholes, etc.


The Prime Minister of the Island came to visit and to chisel a mortise.


Tying a mortise and tenon with a rebar pin.

biodiesel_bagsIn another natural building experiment, Bio diesel bags (filled with sand) were stacked between the posts, these are being used like an “earthship” and will be stuccoed/cobbed.


Ben also experimented with stucco made of sand and hand slaked lime.  Here the stucco is covering the bio diesel bags.  The yellow strings are being used like straw, to grab and hold the plaster/stucco

Here is a brief bio about: Ben Falk, M.A.L.D: Design, Planning, Systems OptimizationBen developed Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things.  He has been working out of Vermont for the past decade.

For those of you interested in Cordwood Construction and seeking more information, please go to and click on Articles, News, What’s New? and if you are looking for literature on Cordwood please feel free to visit the online bookstore.  Many of the offerings are in “ebook format.”

Cordwood Construction Best Practices  available in print & ebook at online bookstore.

Cordwood Construction Best Practices available in print & ebook at online bookstore.


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