May 24 – May 26, 9am — 5pm

Adobe Construction Basics – 3-Day Intensive (In-Person)


This three-day class is an intensive introduction to adobe block and construction taught over a single weekend in Pioneertown, California. The comprehensive curriculum teaches you everything you need to know to build your own landscape garden wall from adobe bricks. As an AIA-accredited class, architectural professionals will also have the opportunity to earn 10 HSW Learning Units.

Out of stock

The best way to learn the basics of adobe is to collect some local soil and make a series of test blocks which are then used to build a small garden wall.


24 hours (three 8-hour days)

Course Topics

  1.   Soil Selection and Testing
  2.   Water Resistance and Stabilization
  3.   Adobe Forms
  4.   Making Adobe Blocks
  5.   Gravel Garden Wall Foundations
  6.   Adobe Brick Laying and Leveling Techniques

Who is it for?

Adobe Construction Basics – 3-Day Intensive bundles essential topics from the Adobeisnotsoftware Adobe Curriculum into a format that is suitable for all levels, from beginners, to building professionals, DIYers, natural building enthusiasts, adobe homeowners, aspiring owner builders, and the adobe curious.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Learn the proportions of a good adobe mix for your area and how to amend your soil if a suitable mix is not naturally present.
  • Learn about safety in earthen construction.
  • Learn about how earth has been used as a building material worldwide and in CA.
  • Learn about the environmental and health benefits of earth as a building material.
  • Learn which building codes apply to earthen construction.
  • Learn how to locate, identify and test suitable soils for use in adobe construction.
  • Learn about clay minerals and aggregates and their role in the adobe mix.
  • Learn and master techniques for properly tooling mortar joints
  • Learn about the use of stabilizers for improved water resistance, including asphalt emulsion, portland cement, and lime
  • Learn and master mixing mud in a wheelbarrow, muck bucket and barrel mixer.
  • Learn and master adobe block making.
  • Learn and master the basic adobe block drying and storing sequence.
  • Learn and master different methods of field testing your adobe blocks for strength.
  • Learn and master the installation of a basic gravel garden wall foundation
  • Learn and master techniques for properly applying mortar to build a wall
  • Learn and master techniques for laying and leveling adobe blocks to build a wall

Instruction Type

This is an in-person, hands-on class. Attendees will have the opportunity to get dirty and use tools and equipment typical of adobe construction. Due to the course format, enrollment will be limited to 8 individuals. Children under the age of 14 unfortunately cannot be accommodated except by prior arrangement. In the unlikely event of inclement weather, instruction will occur indoors.

Lodging & Food

These classes will take place in Pioneertown, California. Though lodging is not included, there are nearby options for all budgets. Within walking distance is the Pioneertown Corrals, where you can camp under the stars for as little as $35. Or opt for a little more luxury at the Pioneertown Motel. There are also plenty of hotels, motels, and Airbnbs within a 20-minute drive of the site.

Restaurants within walking distance include the Red Dog Saloon and Pappy and Harriets. The site is a short drive to 29 Palms Highway. The site is a short drive to 29 Palms Highway which has plenty of dining options.


Kurt Gardella

Kurt Gardella specializes in online and field-based adobe construction education. He holds a Certificate in Adobe Construction from Northern New Mexico College (Quentin Wilson) and is also certified as a Specialist for Building with Earth (Registration #01-208-0810) by the Dachverband Lehm (German Association for Building with Earth) and the Handwerkskammer Ulm (Ulm Chamber of Trades and Crafts). Kurt also holds an Adobe Proficiency Certification from The Earthbuilders’ Guild. In addition to Adobe is not Software, Kurt also teaches classes for Adobe in Action and Santa Fe Community College.

Ben Loescher

Ben Loescher is a founding Principal at Loescher Meachem Architects where his work focuses around reuse of existing buildings, high performance workplace design for the film, television and media industries, and innovation in earthen construction. Loescher provides education for earthen building through Adobeisnotsoftware, is currently Chair of the Earthbuilders’ Guild, the U.S. trade association for earthen construction and a board member for Adobe in Action, a New Mexico based non-profit focused on assisting individuals in creating affordable earthen housing.

Evaluation Methods

20-question written exam
Evaluation of adobe block making and garden wall field work


This course  includes topics from the following Adobeisnotsoftware Curriculum modules:

  • 100 Intro to Earth as a Building Material (full module)
  • 120 Soil Selection and Testing (full module)
  • 122 Making Adobe Blocks (full module)
  • 124 Water Resistance Admixtures for Earthen Building Materials (aka Stabilization) (full module)
  • 180 Intro to Earthen Building Codes and California (select topics)
  • 230 Introduction to Foundations for Earthen Buildings – Concepts (select topics)
  • 232 Introduction to Earthen Wall Building – Concepts (select topics)

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