Cob Outdoor Kitchen with Oven, Rocket Cooktop & Reciprocal Roof in the Azores Islands (São Miguel)

Date(s) - Sunday, September 15, 2024 - Sunday, October 13, 2024
8:30 am - 5:30 pm


Our native Azorean workshop hosts are Joana and Jaime and their two children Francisco and Manuel who, just 10 years ago, began the huge project of bringing Joana’s family’s manor home of 4 centuries back to life with a new face and a new purpose, all the while retaining the Azorean historical memories and stories of a big family heritage.  You are fortunate to be welcomed and have the opportunity to stay in this grand and unique old manor home for very reasonable workshop student-only rates.

The family manor and eco swimming pool in front.

Quinta do Bom Despacho is a name that goes back to the 17th century and whose story begins with Gaspar Dias, a successful Jewish merchant and ancestor of the Borges Coutinho family. Gaspar Dias and his family were of Jewish descent, which made him a regular target of the Inquisition and a barrier to integration into the society of the time.

The manor home which serves as co-living apartments from September to May and tourist/retreat accommodations in summer.

They needed a “Royal Charter for the Cleansing of Blood”, which conferred on them the status of New Christians. Gaspar Dias made a promise to build the “Ermida do Bom Despacho” (Chapel of the Good Dispatch) when he obtained this letter, which was essential to his good name. Gaspar’s promise was later fulfilled and the chapel was built by his descendants, as well as the house that still exists today, leaving the “Paim” area known as “the place of Bom Despacho”.

Unfortunately, the chapel was destroyed in the mid-19th century, but the name remained. Even today, “Bom Despacho” is used to refer to the house and the land that surrounds it. Although it remained in the same family for more than 400 years, Quinta do Bom Despacho was uninhabited for many years and degraded to a state of ruin by the end of the 20th century. XX.

The gardens

António Eduardo Borges Coutinho, the second grandson of the 2nd Marquis of Praia and Monforte (better known to us as “avô Toni”), inherited Quinta do Bom Despacho. He decided to restore it as a family home when the Marquês da Praia palace in the centre of Ponta Delgada was expropriated.The restoration work took place between 1981 and 1984, under his direction and that of his two sons, António and Francisco, who had recently returned from military service in Angola and Mozambique.

In the spring of 1984, Quinta do Bom Despacho was ready. Francisco, his wife and two daughters were the first to sleep in the “new house”. Shortly afterwards, his brother Antonio and his family gathered in the west wing. The parents (António and Conceição) settled on the ground floor of the manor house they shared with their daughters in the summer. For more than two decades, the property was a winter refuge for those who lived there and a summer paradise for an army of grandchildren, cousins and uncles, lunches on hot days and long family afternoons and evenings.

In 2014, Joana (our host) and Susana, two of António Borges Coutinho’s twelve grandchildren,set off a new cycle for the property and the family by proposing an innovative project: transforming the property into an Eco-Tourism lodge. Major work was carried out on the house and its exterior to modernize the infrastructure and create extensive gardens with ecological vegetable plots and permaculture design, which allow the space to offer environmental education.


On the Summer Solstice of 2015, Quinta do Bom Despacho opened its doors to the public and welcomed its first guests. The Quinta has been run by Joana and her husband Jaime, alongside their two sons Francisco and Manuel. Today, Quinta do Bom Despacho is a benchmark for sustainability on the island and in the archipelago. We are proud of the history of the family and the manor house, and now also of conscious entrepreneurship.

Jaime is a bass player with 17 years of punk rock band on the road. Joana was a law student turned organic farmer and forest-edge community engagement in places like Madagascar, Brazil and Borneo. One thing in common: the Azores. Add a lifelong friendship and our story morphed into a beautiful family of 4.

In 2014 we decided to move (back) to the Azores and run our own business: an eco-lodge at the heart of São Miguel, that serves as a haven for those passing through the island and as an
environment, justice and equality education centre for the local community. We receive over 500 students and visitors per year, who come to learn about permaculture, sustainable tourism, agroecology, botany, wellbeing and happiness.

Outlining the site boundaries for the new outdoor kitchen coming in September!

The new outdoor kitchen will serve multiple purposes (as all things in the Quinta): a real-life example of eco-building with endogenous materials, a support for outdoor events, visits and residential workshops, a cool hangout for staff, family and friends, and of course: more beauty and love in our gardens!  We will also welcome locals who can’t make the whole workshop for one-day workshops on the weekends to build some benches.

The weather in September and October is the finest of the whole year! Be prepared to hit the Azorean warm clear ocean waters in the afternoons and on weekends, as well as walking into Ponta Delgada and cruising down the narrow old lava stone-lined streets for a cerveja and petisco after your workshop day.  And of course you have a whole island of magical spots to discover alone or with others on the weekends so make sure to plan for a car rental.



Santa Fe CruzinCobGlobal Workshop, 2021

In this workshop we will be building a wonderful clay-based outdoor kitchen, as well as a beautiful reciprocal roof structure to go over it. The kitchen will include a wood-fired cob oven, great for baking and making pizza, and a Rocket-Lorena stove. The Lorena stove was developed by the Pueblo Indians as an ingenious way to efficiently cook and store heat. Between oven and stove we will install prep and serving stations, a sink, and some cob benches and “half” walls (time permitting).




5-week workshop students building a reciprocal roof in the Azores in 2023

In the first week we will learn how to install a reciprocal frame roof structure on an existing wood support, followed by a green roof covering.  In weeks 2 & 3 we will start with building various dimensions of interconnected lava stone foundations to support our Cob Oven, Rocket Stove Cooktop, and Counter/Work Table and Shelving and then begin making cob as we learn the technical building of an Oven and Rocket Stove & Cooktop.  In week 4 we will complete our work by finishing the cob with beautiful earthen plasters. All materials will be local, of course, to the island, except the refractory bricks and possibly one straw bale.

The beginning of the rocket stove

This workshop is designed as a crash course to familiarize participants with the global skills for building an outdoor kitchen. A lot of material will be covered and a lot of different tasks and processes will be happening simultaneously. As such, as a student, expect to be toggling between different areas of interest and be prepared to absorb a lot of information. Every other day we will engage in theoretical discussions and lectures after lunch to help contextualize the work we will be doing.

For anyone interested in learning beforehand, listed below is some recommended reading:

* “The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide” by Ernie and Erica Weisner
* “Build Your Own Earthen Oven” by Kiko Denzer
* “The Hand Sculpted House” by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and
* “The Complete Cob Construction Guide” by Michael Smith

Participants in this workshop will learn:

1. the ins and outs of earth-based building, including cob, wattle and daub & earthen plasters

2. how to design and install a reciprocal frame roof structure

3. all about rocket stove technology: history, design, principles of combustion, fuel selection,      best practices, and how to integrate one into other cooking systems such as the Lorena stove    

4. how to design, build, and operate a clay-based oven

5. a general approach towards designing an outdoor kitchen, including space optimization and efficiently locating appliances

4-Week Schedule:

Week 1: Reciprocal roof
Week 2: Foundations and drainage, Cob, Rocket Stove Core, and plumbing prep
Week 3: Oven and Lorena stove, install cabinet, shelving, storage and prep surfaces, and begin plaster prep
Week 4: Finish plaster prep, plaster, pizza party

Daily Schedule:

7:30-8:15 Breakfast
8:30-1:00 Class
1:00-2:30 Lunch
2:30-5:30 Class & Lectures
5:30-7:00 Rest/Yoga
7:00-8:00 Dinner
8:00-9:00 Slides/Videos/Discussion (once a week)

Students are expected to be on time and participate in all sessions and required activities as the goal of building a full construction depends on the whole group working together!





Students will need to come prepared for demanding physical work from Day 1.
This includes bringing:

Work clothes appropriate for the country and climate we are in
Work boots or other closed-toe shoes (for foundation and roof)
Flip-flops (for cobbing/plaster days)
Rubber dishwashing gloves (for lime mortar)
Work Gloves (for stone work)
Tape Measure
Box Cutter
Wood Hand Saw (cheap)*
Level (2ft)*
Japanese plastering trowel(s) (Amazon or
Ear Plugs (roof week)
Wood Chisel*
4”-6” Diameter Round Plastic Container Lids (for plastering)
Good Moisturizer
Water Bottle
Safety Glasses
Carpenter Pencil & Sharpener
Sample of your Soil (optional)

*These tools will be very helpful to bring if you can, to minimize sharing and waiting, but if you can’t the Host will provide them of course.

Finally, please bring a watch or use your phone to be prompt and ready for each part of the Course including meals. Please make sure you share your dietary restrictions/allergies with CCG in your registration form. Note that very demanding dietary needs will not be
 able to be met (vegan & non-gluten ok) and those students may be recommended not to participate unless they are willing to meet their special needs on their own, which will not include kitchen access on weekdays. Please discuss with Claudine at time of desire to register. Also please bring your essential snacks and foods, pillow and whatever you NEED to be comfortable and happy. Feel free to also bring playlists, speaker, slides, videos,
movies and books to share, as well as a sample of your soil to test.

We look forward to opening you to a whole new world of experience, skill, growth and transformation as you bond with your new COB family for life!



We will serve three meals a day from Monday through Friday including the Welcome and Celebration Dinners and Farewell Brunch.  Weekends students will be on their own for food and may use the onsite kitchen.  Meals will be vegetarian and locally-based as much as possible, including farm produce and eggs!

We will attend to vegan and gluten-free diets if needed but any other restrictions & allergies that require extensive preparation needs will not be able to be honored. And kitchen will only be accessible on weekends for students.

Camping in your own tent is free and available for everyone.  Please bring your camping gear. Our hosts are also offering double and triple shared rooms and private rooms in the manor home for very reasonable fees, some with their own bathrooms (ensuite).  A communal living room and kitchen in the manor home will be shared by all the students. If you would like to stay in one of these rooms and take a bed or share with a friend or take the whole room we would need to know asap (definitely by end of July) to hold them for you.

The rooms we have available for the Cob Workshop are as follows :

– Room #1: shared, double bed, 20€/night

– Room #2: ensuite, double bed, 25€/night (cannot sleep someone very tall!)

– Room #3: ensuite, double bed, 25€/night*
– Room #4: shared, twin beds, 20€/night (10€/bed)
– Room #6: shared, twin beds, 20€/night (10€/bed)*
– Room #9: shared, triple room, 22.5€/night (7.5€/bed)
*could become triple rooms with an extra bed




To get to the island of São Miguel you have to fly, unless you have a boat or a friend who has one or you hitchhike on a boat 🙂 From the US, you can take SATA/Azores Airlines or United or Delta from JFK or BOS directly to PDL.  From other locations in the US you can buy your ticket directly from there with these airlines or get yourself to BOS or JFK with a separate ticket.  TAP also flies to the Azores via LIS (Lisbon).

From Europe there are direct flights from Paris, Stuttgart, London and Lisbon with Ryan Air, TAP and SATA.

Once we know all the arrival times we can arrange an airport pickup or you can take a short cab ride to the Quinta (5 minutes from airport).  We suggest you arrive up to 7 days earlier to adjust and visit the island.  Of course you can rent a space at the Quinta or at Claudine’s Quinta da Vida Beleza in Lagoa.



Viva Hansen is a professional natural builder and sustainability enthusiast who practices and builds all around the world. He has taught and co-taught many building workshops, and was fortunate enough to spend the earliest years of his life around cob building thanks to his mother. After attending university, Viva spent years learning and teaching with CruzinCobGlobal, and eventually started his own company Mudblood Builds, where he focuses on offering earth-based wood-fired appliances, outdoor kitchens, and unique sculptural art. Viva’s love of life and appreciation for the raw elements of the world is evident in his creative problem solving ability, as well as his enthusiasm for sharing this knowledge in a positive way.



A happy plasterer in Puerto Rico!

Coming from a tiny paradise island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius Island, Tania de Froberville grew up surrounded by nature and a bunch of different cultures. Her childhood was spent building sand castles and treehouses, dreaming of one day being able to build her own house. As a lost 18 year-old she went to France and studied graphic design. Back in Mauritius she quickly evolved and worked as a freelance Event decorator and Interior designer. What she loved about it was  building decor with her own hands, refurbishing old furniture and creating a space where people felt safe and happy.

In her own words: Cob entered my life in August 2023, when I signed up to volunteer at Claudine’s Quinta da Vida Beleza in the Azores, thinking that I would spend my time weeding her property and found myself surrounded by mud houses. People will say it’s luck, I think it’s destiny. Seeing what a great weeder I was, she quickly proposed that I replaster one of her cob houses. When I first started playing with mud it felt like I finally found something that I was looking for, for a very long time. I immediately signed up for the next workshop that took place in January 2024 in Puerto Rico. During this workshop my love and interest for cob grew wider and deeper as did my love for the community that shares this passion with me.

For me cob is coming back to basics in a complicated world, connecting with nature, people and yourself. But it’s also creating a shelter for others, a safe space, where love and joy can be shared and spread.  I am so excited to assist Viva  in the first part of the workshop for the roof, foundation and cob and then learn as a student.




Very Early Bird Rate: 1750€, paid in full by June 15th, 2024

Early Bird Rate: 1850€, paid in full by July 15th, 2024

Standard Rate: 1950€, paid in full by August 15th, 2024

*Estudantes açorianos e portugueses favor de contactar para preços reduzidos*.

We are offering 3 work trade positions which give you a 200€ discount on either food or tuition for working one hour each weekday supporting the site before breakfast or preparing & putting away breakfast. Two doing breakfast and one onsite.  These are the first options to go. Depending on when you pay in full, the discount is taken off the appropriate amount.

Payment can be made using Zelle, Paypal and Venmo to with current Euro to USD conversion. Europeans and other international students can pay in using the Wise app/website using same email.

Please contact or Whatsapp +1(831) 212-7225 to register and ask any questions.

To hold your spot (there are 10 for new students and 2 for returning students), you can make a 50% deposit.  The balance owed depends on the date of payment in full. Final payment deadline is August 15th, 2024.




Students who have paid and cancel by July 15th, 2024 can get a full refund minus a 5% administrative/inconvenience fee on the amount they have paid.

Students who have paid and cancel by August 15th, 2024 will receive a credit for a future workshop within two years minus a 10% administrative/inconvenience fee.

Students who have paid and cancel after August 15th, 2024 will not receive a refund or credit unless they have proof of an emergency situation or other reason out of their control, in which case they will receive a credit for two years minus the 10% admin fee.




Location: Quinta do Bom Despacho