A Wood-Fired Cob Sauna w/ Dressing Room in Sanguinho on São Miguel Island (Azores, Portugal)

Date(s) - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Sunday, June 18, 2017
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

(note: dates are in European format…para ler em português favor de escolher Google Translate na coluna direita em baixo)

Location & Project

Island of São Miguel

The west end of São Miguel

I visited São Miguel for the first time last Fall and fell in love immediately with this green, lush island with a perfect climate and water temperature, warmed by the Gulf Stream current. 

Mosteiros Natural Pools

São Miguel is a UN Biosphere Reserve and the government has very strict environmental protection regulations to preserve the overwhelming natural beauty you will discover here. These are ancient volcanic islands very similar to the Canaries, Cabo Verde and Hawaii in that each island is unique in its vegetation, landscape and climate.  The people are mostly of Portuguese ancestry, while there are also long-term immigrants from France, Ireland, Israel and returnees from the US.  You will find this place so relaxed and peaceful, you might want to make it your home!

Bettina Reifferscheid, a longtime resident of the Azores, began restoring this abandoned


The Nordeste region

Furnas Public Hot Springs

settlement a few years ago and has been carefully replicating the original stone homes to create this relaxed, quiet, enchanted Eco center for education and vacation.  Sanguinho overlooks the ocean and Faial da Terra, the closest village below, with which it also shares a running stream.  The Atlantic Ocean

and waterfalls to bathe in are a short walk away.  The island is small enough to get around easily (20 miles by 10 miles) by car and the world-renowned geysers and iron-rich hot springs of Furnas are a short drive from the property as well as is the first town populated by the Portuguese, Povoação, 3rd largest after Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo.  The Nordeste region is the most wild and forested, with endless hiking trails and little population. The energy of this island is “freedom” “easy-goingness”, “health” and “gorgeous nature”.  Cob is unknown here and most building has been with stone and wood and now with concrete, sadly.

We are excited to bring you this workshop, a first in the Azores and a first building a round sauna with an attached dressing room, including the foundation, walls and roof!  We are lucky to have a master eco-builder nearby, John Shenton, who has created beautiful

Another EcoLodge’s ecopods on the island

ecopods of local wood for his new resort, and who will be assisting in the design and roofing of the sauna.  Students will have the first weekend and second Sunday and after the workshop to explore the island as well as the others.  There is  ferry service that connects all of the Azores Islands and I highly recommend you follow up your workshop with some time to explore, especially by bike!  I did a 2-week tour all the way around São Miguel and Terceira last year and camped anywhere and everywhere….really enjoyable! We have a connection to someone who rents out fully-equipped bikes, ready for bike touring!

The weather in June is warm as is the water, but can be humid.  The average air and water temperature in June is 18℃ to 20℃ or 65℉ to 70℉.   Perfect time for a cob workshop.

This workshop will be in English and Portuguese, if needed.


Days 1/2 (June 3/4) will be arrival and settling in days for students to get to know the area and visit the region and the island.  Days 3-8 we will have theory/lectures and hands-on building practice every day, ending the day with some beachtime, waterfall bathing and relaxing in the area!!!  On Day 9 we will have a day off to rest and do some cultural explorations, hiking, shopping, and recreational time as desired.  Days 10-15 we will continue the theory and building and celebrate Saturday night with a big festive dinner and party… Sunday June 18th the Course will end after breakfast.

The daily schedule (subject to slight variation in accordance with climate) will be:

7:15-8 Meditation/Yoga
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:00-1:00 Class
1:00-2:30 Lunch
2:30-5:30 Class
5:30-7 Rest
7-8 Dinner
8-9:30 Lecture/Slides/Videos (2 nights each week)

Detailed Course Contents

Through graphic lectures, students will learn every phase of building a Cob structure from the foundation to the roof, including floor, sculpting and plaster. The practical learning will begin with the foundation, then the cob walls and the roof.  Because the structure is small we will be able to build the whole thing in this 2-week workshop (depending on the abilities of the students of course but we will have extra local hired help too).

Our hands-on practice will include:

building the foundation with stone and mortar                                                       analyzing soils and materials
making test bricks
deciding on correct mixture
deciding on best location
making cob w/ partner and solo
building with cob
preparing and inserting the door
preparing and inserting fixed and opening windows
preparing and inserting shelves
inserting bottle windows and other objects
inserting electrical wiring and plumbing in walls
preparing and applying earthen plasters
pouring earthen floor
preparing walls for roof connection
building roof frame
building a thatch roof with local reed/straw
making small-scale cob designs of future projects

There will also be discussions, slideshows and videos that will support and enhance students’ understanding of cob materials, cob building, design, geography, budgeting, starting a teaching and/or construction business and possible legal issues for building.  We will also discuss opportunities to become part of the CruzinCobGlobal team as as assistant, intern and teacher.

Accomodations & Meals

Sanguinho offers students a choice of:

  1. Camping (free, please bring your tent, bedding, towels)
  2. Communal indoor space with mattresses on the floor (10€, includes bedding and towels)
  3. Double room (20€ per person, includes bedding & towels)
  4. Private room (30€, for king-sized bed, includes bedding & towels)

The local chefs will be preparing us delicious, healthy mostly vegetarian dishes  with the best produce available on the property and on the island.  We will be served 3 meals a day.  Meal plan is 25€/day.

Laundry service will be provided for a small fee.

If you have any special needs please let us know ASAP.


We advise you to arrive two days prior to the first day of the course (included in the fee) to have some rest and settle in, especially international travellers.  Please contact Bettina at b.reifferscheid@gmail.com if you would like to arrive before the workshop dates.

Getting to São Miguel from Europe is with TAP, SATA and RyanAir.  There are direct flights from Boston and Rhode Island with SATA and TAP.

We will pick you up at the airport (included). The Azores are part of Europe so no visa should be required.

We recommend that all our international students have comprehensive travel insurance for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, baggage, money and liability before travelling.

Important Information Regarding Physical Aspect

Students will need to come prepared for physical labor from Day 1.  That being said, students must tend to their own personal needs, drink alot of water, rest when needed and exert themselves at a steady pace.

Students who cannot do the physical work should let us know before the workshop begins so we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and then help the building part in less physically demanding ways, ie cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is alot to do besides making and building with cob!!!


Wifi will be available onsite and students can also purchase a national sim card and data package with their own connection on their phone. Internet connection is excellent on the island usually but at the site may not be perfect due to the isolation.

What should I bring?

Work clothes, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, flip flop sandals, snacks, notebook, pen, camera, USB stick, beach and hiking clothes, thin plastic or rubber gloves, a sample of your local soil you might use, personal trowel(s), hammer, saw and level are recommended if possible.

Required Reading

“The Hand-Sculpted House” by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley

Please bring to the Course.


Claudine Désirée, founder and director of CCG, learned how to cob with Michael Smith in 2003 in northern CA and has been building and teaching ever since completing her first project,

The International Cob Queen!!!

her legal 200 ft2 studio, in her backyard. She was one of the first people to legalize a cob building on the west coast of the US, where the building code laws are the most stringent due to high earthquake risk.

In 2008, she created SunflowerCobBuilding which became CruzinCob and then, in April 2015, evolved into CruzinCobGlobal, the international cob workshop business she runs from wherever she happens to be on her bike on the Planet.  To date she and her team has taught close to 100 workshops, 20 of which have been part of CCG’s new international circuit since the Spring of 2015 in the following countries: Spain, Senegal, Cabo Verde, France, Morocco and Portugal.  This year CCG will also be in Zanzibar and the Azores Islands before returning to the US and heading to Latin America.


Our vision is two-fold. First, we seek to expand the global awareness, understanding and practical experience of Earthen “Cob” Construction as a safe, healthy, ecological, economical, strong and durable building technique everywhere on the Planet. Secondly CCG seeks to contribute to the reduction in concrete-based construction and cement production thereby increasing the well-being of all Life and our Planet Home.
Our mission is to collaborate with individuals and communities around the Planet in organizing and holding Cob Building workshops in which we lead an international/intercultural group of 10-15 students in the construction of all (foundation, walls and roof) or part (just walls) of a small structure (10-15m2 or 110-165ft2) in a period of 10-28 days. The standard workshop is 10m2 in 2 weeks. We also teach 3-4 day Cob Oven workshops as a shorter and easier option.

Fee & Payment

The cost for the 15-day course depends on your accomodations.

See Accomodations above for the options and cost.

Camping Option:                   975€/person

Communal Room Option: 1125€/person

Double Room Option:       1275€/person

Private Room:                         1425€/person

Students can hold their spot with a non-refundable deposit of 50%. 

Payment in full is due by May 20th.

***ESTUDANTES LOCÁIS: O preço diário è 500€ para 12 dias de curso mais almoço.***

Minimum number of students required is 7.  If course has to be cancelled due to low enrollment, deposits and payments will be fully refunded by May 20th.

 Maximum class size: 12

Each workshop offers students 2 worktrade options.   There is a General Assistant to the Instructor who works 2 hours a day in exchange for a 50% discount on tuition…and there is a General Assistant to the Host which is usually a Mealtime Prep/Cleanup job also 2 hours a day in exchange for a reduction on room and board.

Students can pay online using Paypal, Venmo, Transferwise or a Bank Deposit in the US, Europe or Morocco.    You can use the Paypal to make your payment in US Dollars.  A 3% fee is added for Paypal processing in US and 5% for international payments. Please make sure to choose the option to pay the commission or add it to the amount of the payment so we get the total required.  Venmo is for US residents only (no fee), and Transferwise is for bank transfers from Europe to the US with very low fees of 1%.

Azores Cob Workshop

To pay using a free bank transfer to a European bank, the IBAN # is FR7616598000010377991000171. For US bank deposit please contact us.

To register, make a deposit and pay for the workshop please contact us here .  For information regarding the accomodations, food and travelling to and on Sanguinho, you can contact Bettina at b.reifferscheid@gmail.com.

Location: Sanguinho Eco Retreat Center