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From Communities Magazine, Summer 2008 – Issue 139

In Israel, anyone involved in natural building, the use of local and replenishable materials with low embodied energy and low technology is regarded as eccentric and non-normative. The government has recently come out with a “green building” code that has generated a great deal of enthusiasm among forward-looking architects. (Builders are a little more hesitant). Natural building is not yet on the radar screen.

So who builds “naturally” in Israel? Generally, it is the domain of a few adventurous souls living in outlying areas somewhat removed from bureaucratic observation where enforcement is slack. Sometimes they succeed in wheedling approval from the building authority in their regional rural council. Alternatively, they simply build illegally. Kibbutz Lotan is the first organized community to lobby systematically for the inclusion of natural building in Israel’s building codes. Specifically, we seek approval for straw bale building with earth plaster.