Our Workshop Tutors


Sven Johnston, Principal Tutor

Sven, 44, was born in a family homestead on the south side of Denali in Alaska but spent his school-aged years in Canterbury, New Zealand. An outdoor instructor turned builder, Sven has a broad interest in alternatives to high-energy, conventional lifestyles. His creative approach to building concepts and ideas produce a product that is both beautiful and efficient.

Sven has been building in climates which vary as widely as Alaska to Hawaii and now enjoys building his family life and creative business in South Canterbury, New Zealand. Creative is the best way to describe Sven, from vegetable fuels, to heating systems and to straw bale construction, he’s bound to have some creative solutions.


Sarah Johnston, Principal Tutor

Sarah, 44, is from rural Pennsylvania, USA. Her mother, a rag rug weaver and her father, an antiques dealer brought an eclectic perspective of design during her childhood.

She has focused on sustainable design methods and materials for the past 22 years in hopes of creating both indoor and outdoor environments that works with existing site, local and occupant conditions. She has designed and consulted on many straw bale residences in Colorado, USA and now in New Zealand (since 2004). In 2000, she co-founded and was the Executive Director of the Colorado Straw Bale Association (COSBA), a non-profit promoting and educating the Colorado community in straw bale and other natural building technologies. She is currently the South Island representative for Ausbale, the Australasian Straw Bale Building Association.

Workshops & Lectures

Whether you are a homeowner builder or a seasoned builder, learn the art and science of straw bale design and construction..
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Straw bale homes

From conceptual design through to the construction process, we will guide you in creating the straw bale home you always wanted. View our portfolio...

Our Work

We love simple design solutions.  We find that they are beautiful when combined with the use of natural materials.
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