top of page

        Viva’s building story starts on the beach, where he spent countless hours as a child forging drip castles with his brothers. It was during this period of time that his mother introduced him to natural building after she attended a workshop with Michael Smith of the Cob Cottage Company in 2001. Wasting no time, she started building an earthen studio in their backyard, the first load-bearing mud structure formally legalized in Santa Cruz, California. For years of his youth Viva participated in earthen building, mixing mud after school and tagging along to as many workshops as he could. As a teenager he built his first earthen oven, and after his second year in college he built his first cob structure from foundation to roof: a meditation hut designed in memory of his mentor’s mother.

        Shortly after college Viva spent a year building and teaching cob along the coast of West Africa, where earthen building is traditional but the concrete industry is quickly establishing ubiquity. Fabricated materials are scarce where they worked so crews used what was immediately available. This experience was a cross-cultural immersion into the ethics of traditional building. After Senegal, Viva spent four months in Puerto Rico involved in the reconstruction efforts post hurricane Maria. He built a large earthen oven in the small mountain town of Utuado with a friend who was an avid baker, and aided in other recovery efforts around the island.

        Following Puerto Rico Viva took a year off to try other things. In 2018 he studied and received a certification in massage therapy from Monterey Peninsula Community College, and worked in outdoor education on the East Coast of the U.S. But it wasn’t long before he answered the call of the cob again, this time in the form of assisting Cruzin’ Cob Global in a 5-week workshop building a cob cottage in Nevada City, CA. This was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and motivated Viva to commit to a full year of teaching workshops throughout California, Colorado, and as far south as Chile.

        In 2020 when the world shut down, Viva took the opportunity to develop his interest in low-tech, high-efficiency wood-fired appliances. He experimented with rocket stoves and learned to build and integrate them into a variety of use cases. Like many before him, these seductively simple stoves became an endless source of inspiration. He poured over any information on stove-building innovation he could find, much of it scattered across the internet or loosely organized on forums and Facebook groups. During this time Viva was lucky enough to develop close relationships with innovators and originators in the field, and gleaned valuable knowledge and insight into the ever evolving field of rocket stove technology.

        Clean burning stoves in particular provide ideal conditions for demonstrating the principles of appropriate technology. They can be compact, incredibly useful, crafty, and very efficient and fun to own and operate.

        Viva is a fan of all traditional building materials, but considers clay to be an underutilized material overall. Even in traditional building communities the stigma that clay is an unsuitable material persists due to a lack of education and experience surrounding its strengths and weaknesses. Clay is the most abundant building resource with an extremely low embodied energy profile offering a variety of practical and health benefits to those building and living with it.


        In 2022 Viva launched his own natural building company, Mudblood Builds, as a way to collect and focus his work in a more distinct direction. He chose the name Mudblood as a reminder of the simultaneous power and danger of racial and genetic politics that shape our relationship to land, our right to life, and our access to the critical resources of the earth. 

       Human health and the health of the earth are inextricable.

       Mud is in our blood, and the flesh and blood of the Earth is mud…

       Mudblood serves to preserve this symbiosis.

Earthbender & Traditional Builder

Contact Us

Thanks for reaching out!

bottom of page