Here in Central California summers are very hot and dry. Being outside can be uncomfortable, so we wanted to create a naturally cool (cool as in temperature) area for our son. Since the ground here is full of clay, we thought a cob layer on a playhouse with a living-roof would provide sufficient cooling...and it works! This play area is one of the coolest spots on the property during the blistering hot summer heat. It also stays bone-dry inside during the winter.
Since I used scrap-wood and earth already available to me, I only had to purchase a few items. Total Cost: $30.00
Rather than focus on building the actual structure, this instructable covers the cobbing part of the project.
This project was spaced out over two months to give each step plenty of time to dry, settle, harden and adjust.
Step 1: The Structure
Using some leftover wood from a previous construction project, I was able to put together a sturdy frame to hold the living roof (which is very heavy). I also used some oak limbs for columns in the front. Those limbs might look thin, but the oak-wood here is like iron, and will probably outlast the rest of the structure.
The living roof is around 5 inches deep, with a layer of roofing tar at bottom (dried properly), thin layer of gravel on top of that, a layer of old cotton rug found at the local thrift store on top of that, and finally the soil, I have 2x4's spaced out to help hold the soil in place (you can just make them out in the photo). Also, plenty of drainage along the edges for excess water to run out of. Note that there is plenty of roof hanging away from the house all the way around.