Yoga. Meditation. Daydreaming. Making&Doing. Music. Writing. Painting. Romantic Dalliance. Relaxing – there’s no end to what you can do in a Garden ecoShed!
Discover how to create one for yourself – no planning permission required!

Workshop 1 of this two part event will focus on design – turning ideas into reality – while Workshop 2 will concentrate of construction.

Workshop 1 April 6th 2019
Workshop 2 May 4th 2019


These Workshops will be held at The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim

EconoSpace with timber cladding

EconoSpace with timber cladding


I was recently invited to visit the ancient mud city of Yazd in central Iran to teach my sheltermaking concepts and to assist my host – Professor Ali Ansari of the Azad Islamic University Of Yazd – with the work he and his students do regarding mud building restoration.

I will be documenting my trip and publishing that here on the website shortly. I am also considering a public presentation in Leitrim for the evening of Friday May 17th. Further details to follow.

Mud buildings in Yazd province, central Iran

Mud buildings in Yazd province, central Iran

Professor Ali Ansari of the Azad Islamic University Of Yazd with his students.

Professor Ali Ansari of the Azad Islamic University Of Yazd with his students.

sheltermaker illust web

The Sheltermaker’s Journey

Discovering how to create shelter to nurture a dream of your life …

Details & Booking

Making note of everything said at the Inchicore Workshop Sheltermaker Tour 2013

Making note of everything said at the Inchicore WorkshopSheltermaker Tour 2013

Download Sheltermaker Design Programme [3.2Mb]

DOWNLOAD SHELTERMAKER WORKSHEETS (Creative Commons versions of these will be available here shortly)P6p24

EBUKI Clayfest – International Festival of Earthen Architecture 2018

Irish National Heritage Park, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Volunteer on The Gyreum EconoSpace build gets down and dirty ...

Volunteer on The Gyreum EconoSpace build gets down and dirty …


24-29th September … 9 different earth building techniques on offer from cob to wattle-and-daub, from decorative plasters to turf, from earth block to clay-hemp


Friday 28th September … the theme this year is the ‘Secret Life of Earth’


The anchor which secures debt in the world…


The total value of all developed real estate on the globe reached US$217 trillion in 2015, according to calculations by international real estate adviser, Savills. The analysis, published today for the first time, measures the entire developed property universe including commercial and residential property as well as forestry and agricultural land.

The value of global property in 2015 amounted to 2.7 times the world’s GDP, making up roughly 60% of mainstream global assets and representing an important store of national, corporate and individual wealth. Residential property accounted for 75% of the total value of global property.

Yolande Barnes, head of Savills world research, comments: “To give this figure context, the total value of all the gold ever mined is approximately US$6 trillion, which pales in comparison to the total value of developed property by a factor of 36 to 1.

“The value of global real estate exceeds – by almost a third – the total value of all globally traded equities and securitised debt instruments put together and this highlights the important role that real estate plays in economies worldwide. Real estate is the pre-eminent asset class which will be most impacted by global monetary conditions and investment activity and which, in turn, has the power to most impact national and international economies.”


Actual House

Actual House nearing completion, Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry, Ireland

ALTERNATIVE HOUSING IN IRELAND: Tiny, Eco and a Little Bit Different

January 24, 2016 · by earthworldjim · in Sustainable Building

LAC EconoSpace Studio with solar array, battery bank and frost

LAC EconoSpace Studio with solar array, battery bank and frost

I have been doing lots of looking at Tiny Houses online recently, and it got me thinking about what types, shapes and sizes of them there may be here in Ireland. Invariably most of the pictures of Tiny Houses that I see on the internet are from the US, or occasionally some from Europe.

Here’s some of the places I found. Whilst not all qualify as Tiny Houses per se, each of them captures an aspect of the movement and its generally sustainable green ethos. I have no financial link to any of the below.


Perfect sheltermaking weather at The frame at sunset on The Gyreum EconoSpace LIVE Workshop

Perfect sheltermaking weather at The frame at sunset on The Gyreum EconoSpace LIVE Workshop


You can listen to Peter Cowman talking about life, architecture, dream, imagination, mortgage-free living, eco-building on a shoestring and much, much more HERE


Architecture Playhouse introduced a new dimension into the sheltermaking process ...

Architecture Playhouse introduced a new dimension into the sheltermaking process …


Nikos A. Salingaros


The Biophilia Hypothesis was put forward by one of America’s greatest biologists, Edward O. Wilson. He postulated a human need to connect with living structure in our environment (Kellert et al., 2008). This, Wilson argued, was neither a simple liking nor an aesthetic preference, but a physical requirement equivalent to our need for air, water, and food. A survey of what we prefer to have in our home environment includes greenery in the immediate outdoors, indoor plants, pets and contact with other people. We prove the importance of this biophilic effect with each step we take to shape our environment so that it nourishes us.

But aside from bringing live beings into our living spaces, there are also aspects to the design of buildings that make them attractive and life-enhancing. These factors arise no less surely from biophilia — the word literally means love of life — than does having plants and animals around. While other factors play a role, key elements of successful buildings (from the user’s point of view, not the architect’s) can be ascribed to biophilia. Judging exclusively by indicators of human health, and ignoring the fame of the architect and the media hype for certain fashions, we can identify buildings by both named and anonymous architects that offer the greatest sense of well-being for their users. The structure of those buildings triggers a healing process in our own bodies, so that we consequently wish to experience such buildings as often as possible.


biophilia fig2


Integra Stories of Home and Displacement

by Ciara Ryan-Gerhardt

[To be published late January 2016]

Integra* (a Maltese word): something which is whole.


Integra explores home, travel and place as inner and outer experiences, asking: what kind of home do we want to create, and where and how will we create it?
 Why we travel, and why we return home?

Exploring those who travel by choice, and those displaced through global struggle, Integra takes a compassionate look at our deeply human needs and a system which does not honour our basic humanity. It spans the authors own travels beginning at age eight, and woven throughout are the stories of people who formed Integra:
 tales of the travelling gypsies of England and Ireland; finding and losing home; refugees around the world; a young woman finding home in the LGBT community.
 We travel from Bangui to Kinshasa on diplomatic work, and on into the village birthing houses in the Ivory Coast and Kenya; to Jordan and Palestine and Little Tibet; to the detention centres on the periphery of Europe; and across the Sahara desert with Amanuel who fled his country, one which issues no exit visa.

Visit Ciara’s Facebook page

The commodification of Home by The Market is a system maintained by the constant threat of displacement. Challenging this tyranny unlocks our innate facility to maintain our aliveness, encouraging us to embrace new ways of being. Integra skillfully articulates this contemporary reality and the possibilities for wholeness which it portends.

Peter Cowman

Director, Living Architecture Centre

'Belonging' 3

‘Belonging’ 3



Your Guide to Conventional, Natural and Eco-friendly Methods and Technologies by Féidhlim Harty

Published by Permanent Publications. Print edition ISBN: 9781856232081; PDF edition ISBN: 9781856232098

Reviewed by Peter Cowman, director of the Living Architecture Centre

Based on over 20 years hands-on experience the author of this book presents the reader with a range of sewage treatment systems and management options with a clear bias towards systems that are natural, zero energy, recycle biomass or nutrients, and/or produce a firewood crop at the end of the year. Adopting a clear and lively tone from the outset Féidhlim Harty reveals a clear love and deep knowledge of his subject while charting a clear route forward for the reader, particularly those with a preference for sustainable solutions. Yeah! READ THE FULL REVIEW



My new local transportation system undergoing road testing.
Utilising a pair of bicycle wheels with a simple timber chassis and body she’s a real beaut!
Further details on the ‘Leitrim Handcart’ will appear here shortly.


IMG_1385partofIrish made 1kw, 5 phase wind turbine with 2.5m diameter rotor designed by Hugh Piggott who has been building, flying and teaching about wind power for 25 years.

The turbine provides 24v DC output and is ideal as the basis of a small scale renewable energy system either off-grid or as a supplementary energy source – for heating water, for example.

This turbine has been developed for especially tough conditions and is easily serviceable. The generator rotor discs are steel with magnets set in fibreglass which rotate with the blades. The stator disc containing the windings is stationary and is set in fibreglass.

The tail boom, alternator bracket, fixtures and fittings are all made from stainless steel.
The 3 wooden blades are Austrian boat building larch. The tail is of the furling kind which means in very high winds the tail will ‘furl’ the turbine out of the wind and so decrease its speed.

Also included are a RIPEnergy SWING 300VA sinewave inverter; a 12m mast – in 2 sections [incl. gin pole]; new stabilising cables and armour cable.

This turbine has been recently refurbished and is available for viewing near Drumsna, Co. Leitrim.

Price: €1500

Contact Peter on 086 1022400 or eMail sheltermaker at

Reason for selling: I travel overseas quite bit and the turbine set-up is not ideal for that type of lifestyle.


Mal's Octagon 1

After a lot of thought we have finally started the cabin. We have decided to go with logs filling the joint in between with lime mixed with water and overlapping the corners. We pin every second log to the one beneath and will cut out doors and windows as we go you can add or remove whatever you feel …

Mal's Octagon 2

This project has now, literally, gotten off the ground near Belturbet in County Cavan.

It is being built using locally sourced timber, milled on-site using log construction.

The hut is being constructed alongside an extensive broadleaf plantation under Agricultural, Farm & Forestry Development planning regulations thereby REQUIRING NO PLANNING PERMISSION!

If you are interested in this project, further details are available HERE



This is a talk which I delivered in March 2014 at the invitation of Shamanism Ireland in Co. Meath.

It draws together many of the threads which connect to the subjects of architecture and life.

Soul Shelter

Let’s begin with soul – and what we think it might be.

Definitions abound …

Soul is the part of us that seeks freedom, expression, imagination, creativity and spirituality.

Soul is our moral or emotional nature, our sense of identity.

Soul is that which gives life to our bodies.

Soul is mind, psyche, breath, emotion, love, compassion, dream, immortal essence, even consciousness itself.

Such definitions confound us by their lack of clarity, challenge the very mind that might be soul, sending us trawling for certainty in a sea of unknowing, setting our senses on edge as they deliver a blur of data to the brain where it is probed, dissected, categorised and otherwise rendered sensible… more

'Belonging' 1

‘Belonging’ 1



Cloughjordan EcoVillage Workshop

Cloughjordan EcoVillage Sheltermaker Workshop

The Online Sheltermaker Course offers a unique opportunity for participating Students to create viable building designs to support their unique living needs, wherever in the world they happen to live.






DOWNLOAD OWNER BUILDER ARTICLE ‘Exploring the invisible heart of home’
Events listed on this page and will be published in ‘Sheltermaker’ the Living Architecture Centre online magazine.

The latest Sheltermaker magazine can be viewed HERE

You can request to join the Sheltermaker eMailing List HERE.


A Pedal-Powered Detour from the Rat Race

by Greg Foyster

web.Changing-gears-smaller-fileThe EconoSpace features in the ground-breaking new book, Changing Gears by australian author Greg Foyster, who quit his job in advertising and decided to live more simply. Looking for inspiration, he and his partner Sophie cycled from Melbourne to Far North Queensland (via Tasmania, naturally) scouting out ideas …

Preposterously underprepared, they are propelled by the inspiring and eccentric characters they meet along the way – from a forest activist living up a tree to an 18th-century woodsman and a monk walking barefoot through Queensland.

Featuring eye-opening encounters with DIY downshifters and leading figures in sustainability, Changing Gears is a jaunty adventure that explores an important question for the future: can we be happier with less?

The EconoSpace which features in Greg Foyster's book 'Changing Gears'

The EconoSpace which features in Greg Foyster’s book ‘Changing Gears’

‘From Hepburn Springs, Sophie and I cycled to the outskirts of Castlemaine, where we visited a quaint little cottage perched on a hill overlooking a row of wattle trees. This tiny house measured only 3.3 metres by 3.3 metres, giving it the footprint of a garden shed. The architect, Peter Cowman, showed us inside. The straw and clay walls were a foot thick, providing excellent insulation. Instead of paint, the walls were rendered with yellow ochre dug up from a nearby creek. The window ledges were covered in fabric and throw cushions. There was a small wooden table with three red chairs around it, a sofa that converted into a bed, a kitchen bench with sink, and a small toilet at the back. And that was it. No laundry, no master bed room, no theatre room with leather lounge suite and whopping wide-screen TV. And, as a result, no massive mortgage. Peter said the cute little cottage, called an ‘EconoSpace’, cost less than $3800 to build yourself. The EconoSpace was tiny, but the natural materials put me at ease, so it actually felt like a home. This was very important to Peter, who believed a house should be a physical and mental sanctuary. ‘Psychologically you need to know where your boundaries are so you can relax,’ he said as we sat at the small round table and looked out through the window at a row of wattle trees.’