Design and Build with Cordwood

LearnBIØN – Design and Build with Cordwood

BIØN – Building Impact Zero Network is a group of partners active in low environmental impact building techniques with positive social impact. Our aim is to share knowledge, practices and experiences in order to contribute to built environments and our communities.

The Learn BIØN project aims at building and sharing knowledge across borders and involves 7 partners from 5 European countries. As part of this network, AES will organise the third workshop in Östertälje, Sweden. More info at:  



Design and Build with Cordwood is a 4 week building workshop. During the workshop we will build a cordwood building to suit the needs of the newly established organic farmers in Östertälje.

Cordwood is a building technique that uses the material and resources from the natural Swedish environment, with wood, clay, sand and straw as the main components. The technique can be described as masonry with wood, where cobs or left over pieces of wood can be masoned together with a mortar mix made from clay, straw and sand. During the workshop participants will learn this method while building a useful structure, a direct learning by doing approach.

We will investigate suitable ways of building, experiment with pattern making and detailing, how to process the raw materials, and how to organise self-building strategies and participatory building as a form of development.

Through the workshop we hope to alter the way the technique has been seen as just an ancient building method. The workshop will explore if and in what way this technique can have a relevance for today’s built environment.


Östertälje is a part of the municipality of Södertälje which is located to the southwest of Stockholm. In Södertälje you will find the basic main facilities of a town, with restaurants, shops and services. 40 min on the commuter train takes you to the central station in Stockholm, and all that this city has to offer when it comes to sightseeing, museums and nightlife.

Södertälje has around 70 000 inhabitants and is one of Sweden’s major industrial cities with large businesses such as Scania and Astra Zeneca. These industries have gone through recent changes which has led to less manual labour and fewer work opportunities. This has in turn reflected upon the community as such which has resulted in a large immigrant community with people who came to Södertälje from the Baltic region in the 60’s and 70’s to work for the industries. Recent transformation in Södertälje has also provided a new home for refugees coming from the Middle East. In line with this transformation, there is a need for new strategies to emerge and new desires are to be catered for.

The site in Östertälje is located alongside the train track, between the industrial area of Astra Zeneca and the typical residential area with single family housing. The surrounding land is either smaller fields or patches of forest. Here the municipality has leased their land to the cooperative, Eko-odlarna i Telje (The Eco-farmers of Telje). 2017 will be their second year of farming and development of the site. And here we have the opportunity to partake in the transformation of the site, and create a place for people to meet.


The workshop will take place in August 2017 and it starts on the 31st of July and ends on the 27th of August. Working days are from Monday to Friday. During the weekends the participants will have possibility to explore the surroundings of Södertälje and/or Stockholm. The program is divided into four weeks and 40 working hours per week:

  • Week #1: Introduction to the technique/ Theory/ Sketching
  • Week #2: Processing the raw material/ Building structure and roof/ Construction principles
  • Week #3: Completing the walls/ Floor / Details
  • Week #4: Completing the building, with finishing materials.

Even though the program has a theoretical framework, the major focus is a hands-on approach to the cordwood building practices.

Important dates

  • Application deadline: June 16th
  • participant’s selection announcement: June 23rd
  • payment deadline: July 3rd
  • Starting date of Workshop: 31st July

How to arrive

The town is Östertälje and is located around 40 minutes (by commuter train) south west of Stockholm. Closest airports: Arlanda, Skavsta or Bromma.

From Skavsta – Take the local bus 515 to Nyköping C (10 min), then take the train to Södertälje (40 min). From Arlanda – Take the train/airport bus to T-centralen (central station). From Central station take the commuter train 36 (towards Södertälje centrum) to Östertälje. From Bromma – Take the local bus or the airport bus to Central station, then change to commuter train to Södertälje.

Travel in Stockholm by metro/train/buses Purchase an access card for multiple trips

For trains through sweden go to

Airport buses are provided by


Complete the online application form. In case of over registration, selection of participants will be based on motivation letter and CV. Build with Cordwood


Entire course: €850. Fee includes accommodation, lunch, educational material, use of tools and insurance. If you wish to organise your own accommodation the cost is €450 for the course. Payments are non refundable after July 5th.

Payment details:

Name of Bank: Swedbank
Address of Bank: Gullmarsplan 10
Bank Code-IBAN code: SE31 8000 0832 7992 3824 9610
Swift Code: SWEDSESS
Account Number: 8327-9, 923 824 961-0



Anna Sundman +46 722 564 525
Aaron Nyrén +46 704 594 341