Tomorrrow, Today: Learn & Practise Self-Build Cob in Cambridge

As part of a public art project led by artists Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope, members of the public are being offered the chance to learn the ancient and sustainable technique of cob (earth) building and create a ‘model village of the future’ – a walk-through scale model of the paths, houses & shops planned for the future North West Cambridge development.

A mixed-use expansion of the University of Cambridge, the development will include residential housing, academic and research facilities, local centre and public amenities, as well as open green spaces. The public art programme aims to help create local identity, social engagement and community participation during the construction phase. A six month archaeological investigation was undertaken by Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) ahead of the development, which included an open day and opportunities for volunteer participation and school visits. Inspired by taking part in the digging themselves, the artists in residents decided to include an installation made from the underlying clay and subsoil. Karen and Nina led a cob-building workshop during the last Prehistory Day in October 2013, an outreach event as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, held at CAU, which you can read more about here.

They will be running a series of five day courses this summer to build the ‘Today, Tomorrow’ model. Course participants will receive a day of masterclass tuition from a cob expert followed by four days of guided hands-on cobbing practise helping to build the artwork. There will be informal talks from Nina and Karen about their work and from CAU about their discoveries whilst excavating the site. An interim report is available on the North-West Cambridge website here.

No previous experience is required to take part and both individuals (over 18s only) and groups (maximum of 12) are welcome, although note that the work will be physically demanding. Participation for the five day course costs £50 (£25 concession) and all tools and tuition, as well as teas and lunches are included. The course will be running every week from 28th April until 6th June 2014. Booking can be made on-line here. For more information, you can contact the course coordinator on 07545218251 or e-mail

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