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Permaculture in the design of buildings

green roof Permaculture

green roof Permaculture

Much attention in Permaculture is directed to growing things and planning sustainable land-use. I invite you to think for a moment about Zone 0: the home. How can we apply Permaculture thinking here?

My passion for a long time has been with the design and building of houses and work-spaces that are friendly to the occupants as well as the environment. I call it “Building as if people mattered”.

sketch for a family home

What do I mean by that?

Here are 7 main qualities I hope to achieve with my designs:

  1. Connected to surroundings = fits into a Permaculture design of the land which includes looking at weather patterns, neighbors (human and animal) and other activities on the land. I look for the best possible relationship between all these factors, which results in ease of use and natural benefits like cooling or warming.
  2. Well fitting = enough room for the purpose or the activities that will happen inside. I think about getting the most use out of least amount of space while making it easy to operate inside. Designing with “what will you do in this space”.
  3. Planned for expansion = I encourage my clients to start by building something affordable, and in the planning include possibilities for future expansion. For example: build openings into walls that may become doors, think ahead when designing a roofline.
  4. Healthy for people and planet = I choose non-toxic materials, locally harvested or produced as one part of this. Another aspect is plenty of natural light, fresh air and beauty for the soul. Systems should consist of complete cycles, where whatever comes in will be treated in such a way that it will return to Mother Earth without causing harm after we’re done using it. This applies especially to water, but also to construction materials.
  5. Maintenance friendly = Let’s build it so that repair is easy: good access to shut-off points for water, gas and electricity. Invest in durable infrastructure (good pipes, wiring). I also teach people how to do basic maintenance and repair, on earthen walls and plasters for example.
  6. Materials put to their highest use = consider strength and structural needs when choosing what to build with. Cement and concrete are high strength and often overused in applications. I look for smart ways of reducing these high impact materials like vaults and using materials like stone and earth.
  7. Beauty = put love into the building by adding personal touches. I involve people in the process of building and invite their creativity. The energy we put in will radiate out.
personal touch interior

Touched by human hands: this interior is custom fit in all aspects.

Developing a sustainable lifestyle is easy when houses are planned to support us. Becoming part of natural patterns, paying attention to inputs and outputs can be facilitated by design.

In the end our experience is enriched and we feel more connected to Nature.

attached greenhouse with lots of daylight

Sunrooms feel like being outside and give extra living space in shoulder seasons

out of the ordinary

 

Every once in a while the universe sends me a gift. I don’t always recognize it immediately and it doesn’t ever look the same:

It may be something stopping things from the way I expect them to go and giving a little space in time to slow down or take a walk.

It may be a detour in traffic that takes me along a route I haven’t traveled.

It may be a person showing up in the middle of my busy day.

A few days ago a visitor came to meet with me at the ecovillage. I had agreed to this semi-consultation with some hesitation and set a time frame of half an hour.
The conversation quickly drew me into a space of curiosity and expansion- touching into ancient teachings and philosophies and healing.

We moved from cob and its possibilities and limitations to exploring heaters and other clay work.

My guest had fascinating ideas and knowledge of ancient healing practices and subtle energies and we spoke about health challenges of our conventional housing and ways of doing things.

I learned that the energy of cooking on electric stoves is not supporting our well-being: both the person exposed to a high level of EMF’s in the vicinity of the stove and the food that’s being prepared are affected. Choosing a gas burner is a better choice and best from this point of view is cooking over a wood fire.

stew from a cob oven

Looking into this a little I found this conversation about gas/electric on the cyber macro health forum

Something to think about!

You probably gather that the conversation didn’t stop at the half hour mark- during the conversation I felt a sense of timelessness. That is the magic and I am deeply grateful for it.