Spring 2024 Workshop



March 1st - March 9th


Terlingua, TX



Off-Grid Earth Building Essentials

A Compressed Earth Block and Regenerative Systems Workshop in Two Parts

March 1st - 3rd                                       March 5th - 9th

Have you ever dreamed of building off-grid using local materials? Are you working on a personal or community project but need more guidance and experience to confidently break ground? At the School of Constructive Arts we combine hands-on education with detailed instruction to empower people to build resilient homes and communities that are healthy for people and the environment. This spring we have put together our most comprehensive workshop to date, condensing the regenerative design curriculum from our month long Student Volunteer Residency into a 7 day intensive course. Presentations will cover natural and recycled materials, off-grid waste management, catchment, greywater, landscape integration and restoration, and a range of ancient and modern approaches to heating and cooling with natural energy. In parallel to this broad curriculum students will get a hands-on crash-course in compressed earth block construction. We are currently building a small library and classroom for our campus. This building provides an opportunity for students to experience the many aspects of earth block construction from the ground up, including soil testing, and mix design, compressed earth block machinery and production, rubble-trench foundations and grade beams, earthen mortars, laying CEB masonry, forming bond beams, and plaster.  Take your education off-line and off-grid.  Learn the ancient art and cutting edge science of building with the earth. 

Compressed Earth Block

For millenia people have built healthy durable buildings directly from the earth but traditional methods require a lot of labor. Compressed Earth Block (CEB) combines the timeless environmental, comfort, and health benefits of earthen construction with the efficiency of modern manufacturing.   Mechanical mixing equipment and a hydraulic press transform raw soil into solid blocks which exceed the performance of conventional materials. Compressed earth block walls are fireproof, bug-proof, sound-proof, and bullet-proof. They mitigate extreme changes in heat and humidity, creating a comfortable indoor environment, and earth blocks are healthy for the environment as a whole. They utilize readily available, local materials, require very little energy or water to manufacture, generate no harmful waste, can last for centuries, and create buildings which are energy-efficient to operate.

Regenerative Design and Building Systems

Among 9 million species we are the only ones who substantially reshape the earth to our desires. It is clear now that our actions, far from desirable, have come to threaten the very balances that sustain all life. Regenerative design is the study of how to shape the world in a way that is life giving rather than life-threatening. It is  how we refer to a broad range of ancient and modern techniques for building and living that are not only healthy for people but for the whole of life. In the curriculum we have developed this study is broken into four components:

  • Natural and Recycled Materials
  • Sun, Wind, and Water to Power, Heat, and Cool
  • Whole Cycle Waste and Water Systems
  • Building with the Land - Agriculture, Integration, and Land Repair


This spring we have decided to offer more flexibility by offering the workshop into two parts:

March 1st - 3rd - Part 1: Making Earth Blocks
March 5th - 9th - Part 2: Building with Earth Blocks

You are welcome to join for either of these workshops or combine them into a 7 day workshop with 2 rest days to explore the region.

Taken as a whole the workshop provides comprehensive hands-on training in CEB construction and an introduction to a range of regenerative design and off-grid  building systems.

Friday - March 1 - Afternoon

Introduction to SCA and Regenerative Design and Building Systems (Classroom)
Site Tour and Orientation
Natural and Recycled Materials Presentation (Classroom)

Saturday - March 2

Earth Building Benefits and Techniques (Classroom)
Adobe, Earth Bag, and Rammed Earth Demonstration
Soils Lab - Soil Sourcing, Analysis, Amendment, Stabilization, Mix Design, and Testing

Sunday - March 3

Soil Processing and Mixing - Manual and Mechnaical
Compressed  Earth Block Machines and Equipment
Earth Block Production 

Monday - March 4           Tuesday - March 5                      


Tuesday - March 5 - Afternoon (New Students Only)

Introduction to SCA and Regenerative Design and Compressed Earth Block
Site Tour and Orientation

Wednesday - March 6

Demonstrate and Discuss Rubble Trench Foundation, Story Poles, and First Course
Set Window Bucks and Arch Forms

Thursday - March 7

Arches Vaults and Domes Presentation (Classroom)
Form Arches and Lay Walls

Friday - March 8

Sun, Wind, and Water to Power, Heat and Cool Presentation (Classroom)
Form Arches and Lay Walls

Saturday - March 9

Building with the Land Presentation (Classroom)
Form Bond Beam and Place Rebar
Plaster and Finish Techniques Demonstration

Closing Celebration - Wood-Fired Pizza from our Earthen Oven

*The above is an approximate workshop schedule and is subject to change.

Workshop Cost

$400 - Part 1: Making Earth Blocks - March 1st-3rd
$550 - Part 2: Building with Earth Blocks - March 5th-9th
$850 - Full Workshop - March 1st-10th

Breakfast and lunch are included, and dinner is available at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge and in the Terlingua Ghost Town. We will fire up our earthen oven for a wood-fired pizza dinner celebration on the last day of the workshop March 9th.

Our mission is to provide high-quality education at an affordable price. The workshop price covers our direct costs. If you are able, please consider an additional donation to support our future programs and allow us to provide scholarships for individuals who would otherwise not be able to attend. Please email us if you would like to participate but cost is an obstacle.

Who should attend?

Anyone interested in building and living in a healthier, more humane, and more efficient way. All skill levels are welcome. We recommended participants be 18+ or 12+ if accompanied by an adult. The course is well suited to seasoned builders, beginners, students, professionals, homeowners, and aspiring homeowners alike. The course has a practical focus and aims to provide compreshensive training for those planning to build with compressed earth block.  Many skills covered will be applicable to other forms natural building. The classroom presentations cover a wide range of concepts, design principles, and techniques essential to off-grid building.

Location and Transportation

School of Constructive Arts Main Campus
1316 Snake Road
Alpine, TX 79830

The School of Constructive Arts is based in the Big Bend Region of West Texas, in an International Biosphere Reserve, between Big Bend National and State Parks, and within the largest dark sky reserve in the world. This remote location requires some planning to get to. Our campus is just off the Terlingua Ranch Road, 60 miles south of Alpine. The closest airports are in Midland/Odessa (3.5 hours by car) and El Paso (4.5 hours). There is an Amtrak station in Alpine, TX. It is recommended to have a vehicle during the course of the week, though carpooling can be coordinated. If you are willing to ride share from the airport please let us know. Pick-ups can be arranged in Alpine and Marfa for arrival and departure, but not daily commutes.


We have reserved cabins for workshop participants at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge (13 miles from SCA). Rooms each have two queen-size beds and a private bath. Please specify if you would like to book a room to yourself or share a room with another attendee.  Campsites with hookups are also available. There is a restaurant (Bad Rabbit Cafe), laundry, showers, and a swimming pool (seasonal) at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge.

You are also welcome to camp at our campus. We provide “glamping’ in large canvas bell tents with wood stoves, cots, and camping pads (please bring your own sleeping bag / blanket). Glamping arrangements include use or our shared outdoor shower facility. We can also accomodate those who would like to camp independently with their own tent and camping gear, or in a car or camper van.

If you would like to arrange lodging beyond the program dates or have other specific requests please reach out. Because we cannot anticipate the number of participants who will require accommodations, rooms are available on a first come first serve basis. Contact us asap to reserve your place.

  • Single Cabin - $225 / Night
  • Shared Cabin (One of Two Queen Beds and Shared Bath) - $75 / Night
  • ‘Glamping’ at SCA (Canvas Tent, Cot, Showers) - $25 / Night
  • Self Sufficient Camping at SCA - Free

Breakfast and lunch will be provided during the workshop. Paid dinners can also be arranged.

About Us

The School of Constructive Arts is a field-school teaching design, building, and ecology through direct participation and experimentation. Our approach combines ancestral knowledge of natural materials and energy with advancing technology and contemporary building techniques to advance sustainable models of living for our time. Through our ‘build through teaching, and teach through building’ approach we are establishing our campus in the Big Bend. The workshops, residences, and land here allow us to support hands-on educational programs, individual research, experimentation, and innovation.

Student Volunteers

These workshops coinicide with our core Student Volunteer Program. Student volunteers live on-site and contribute to the construction of our campus while receiveing a free education in earthen construction and regenerative design. This year student volunteers will be starting on site the week preceeding the workshops and continuing for one week after. Students Volunteers may step up to help teach or facilitate but they are equal participants in the workshops. If you are interested in participating as a student volunteer you can learn more at the link below.