Building, Energy Systems — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 20, 2013
With deforestation still moving ahead apace, dealing with the global demand for fuel wood is critical. Life without heat and hot water would be very unpleasant. Life without trees is impossible…. And to satiate our hunger for heat, richly biodiverse forests are being replaced with ’sterile’ monoculture tree plantations which give rise to tree diseases and other ecological vulnerabilities. The pressure for fuel wood is on in most parts of the world. Removing tree cover from the upper watershed is particularly damaging, but persistent demand can cause too many to shift the goalposts on how much should be allowed to remain….
Along with passive solar building designs, a rocket stove hot water heater can dramatically reduce the amount of wood used to heat a given amount of space, or a given amount of water — down to as little as a fifth as much as a regular fire. In this video Geoff Lawton takes you through the design of the rocket stove mass hot water heater that very efficiently provides reliable daily showers for the many students we receive at PRI Zaytuna Farm. This particular stove is specifically for heating water, but other designs can produce thermal mass space heaters as well.Comments (10)
Building a greenhouse from a shipping container and using it as an educational resource in Kyrgyzstan.
The shipping container is a symbol that is synonymous with growth. It is often used to ship plastic parts to China to be assembled, then shipped back as plastic water guns or whatever a dollar can buy at the discount shops. However, here in Central Asia, the shipping container is a resource to be used in any way imaginable. Kyrgyzstan is the furthest country in the world from any ocean port and as such, most of the containers that make it here, stay here. In fact, there are so many containers in the country that our largest bazaar is made almost entirely out of them — two stories tall, multiple kilometers wide, and employing over 50,000 people!
Shipping containers are basically designed to act like giant Lego blocks. In Kyrgyzstan, they are stacked up in all sorts of configurations to build bazaars, houses, or businesses. So it got me thinking: this resource is widely available in Kyrgyzstan, so why not try and see what else we can do with it? The school at which I volunteer was looking to add something to its science department, and since I’m a big permaculture supporter, I suggested we build a greenhouse out of a shipping container.
What follows is the journey that the school has taken to get to the “final” product we have today.Comments (2)
Building — by Danielle Wolff-Chambers May 9, 2013
by Danielle Wolff-Chambers and Shelley Clements
Here we are in Queensland, May 2013, half way through an Earthship build. It is the first one to be built in Australia and has been experimental in many ways. We started the build in January with a very diverse group of about 50 people ranging in experience, age and cultural backgrounds. It was run as a workshop so people could attend and participate in the build to empower those who wish to be involved in Earthships to gain the necessary skills and connect with people who have complementary skills, so as to form Earthship building teams and meet skilled allies and new friends.Comments (3)
We are very excited to announce the finishes workshop for Australia’s first Earthship in Queensland, Australia. The Earthship design concept and systems have been applied to the subtropical climate of the area. Come and see the rammed earth tyres, the can walls, the earth berm, the hempcrete roof and all other components of this Earthship.
The Earthship was started in January this year. We ran a 3-week construction workshop on our residential permaculture plot. Our Earthship Finishes Workshop gives detailed attention to bottle walls, botanical cells and many more creative applications for the flooring, walls and the bathroom fit out.
Come and stay on this beautiful piece of land, learn with experienced Earthship crew members and work on a common goal.Comments (0)
Building, Community Projects — by Elisa Fusi May 8, 2013
I met Fabrice at the top of the hill in the lovely forest at Whangateau in New Zealand, a scenic spot in the middle of the North Island.
Fabrice was kind and smiling as usual, with an honest desire to talk about his project and share pure wisdom on natural building and carpentry. He has travelled extensively and has been working as a baker all his life.
‘Bread baking is a magic craft’, he said with a charismatic voice.Comments (0)
Building — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 26, 2013
Photos © Craig Mackintosh
The main buildings at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm remind me a little of those cute homes I saw in tales in children’s books as a kid. You know — the edible type, made of sugar, etc. The natural colour, texture and shape all lend themselves to this nostalgia. But, despite appearances, most of these structures are actually made of straw bale (with a daub and lime render over top), so even though they look great, I wouldn’t encourage you to try to eat them.Comments (1)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Building, Compost, Livestock, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Rick Pickett March 20, 2013
Rehabilitating degraded land in the Peruvian Amazon requires utilizing many tools in ecological agriculture’s arsenal. We use a mix of sea kelp, calcium solutions, organic fertilizers, and rock phosphate to add nutrients to our sacha inchi and mocambo polycultures.
One fertilizing solution we were without on the farm when I arrived was the mighty worm bin.* Vermiculture, or vermicompost, is a low-tech, organic method of using the digestive capacity of redworms (Eisenia fetida) to recycle animal and kitchen wastes into solid and/or liquid organic fertilizers. The worms may also be used as a high-protein feed for poultry. Some enterprising farmers also get into the business of selling the worms, castings and/or teas.Comments (5)
Building, Energy Systems — by Paul Wheaton February 20, 2013
Four DVDs will be created: "Fire Science", "Sneaky Heat", "Boom Squish" and "Hot Rocket" – showing the most sustainable way to heat.
I pointed the video camera at all the cool stuff at the workshop, just like I said I said I would. Now it is time for you all to pony up for the DVDs. Once funded, the raw footage will be massaged into stuff that will fit into DVD-like thing-a-ma-jigs.Comments (9)
Building, Energy Systems — by Rob Avis February 15, 2013
by Rob Avis
Our new rocket mass heater is now functionally done. After installing a proper chimney, it really hums! Above is a video that we produced showcasing its construction.Comments (4)
Building — by Jonathan Bates
Coldframes Manhattan, New York
At the beginning of the 1900s, many modern cities were growing vegetables under glass during the winter months. Truck farmers in these cities, including Manhattan in the USA, and Paris in France, were able to grow significant amounts of food in simple cold frames. I’ve heard stories that some New England states were even shipping fresh winter vegetables to Florida during this period!Comments (2)
Building, Courses/Workshops — by Bill Wilson February 8, 2013
Pictures and Text by Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture
For a second year we co-delivered with the Cal-Earth teaching staff a combined Superadobe Earth Building and Permaculture Design Certificate Course. At the close of our course we were pleased to host Geoff and Nadia Lawton of PRI Australia who shared their work in desert environments with us in a workshop that was also open to the general public. Here is a quick picture summary of this October 2012 training and of Geoff and Nadia’s visit.
These combined Superadobe and PDC Courses take place in Hesperia, CA, at the
Cal-Earth campus. Class might be held any place on site, including here outside
of Earth One, Cal-Earth’s flagship building.
Building — by Geoff Lawton January 30, 2013
After Pakistan was devastated by an earthquake in 2005, Darcey Donovan, an engineer in California, pursued designs for quake-resistant homes using local materials. The result was a straw-bale building. It withstood substantial shaking in tests at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Building, Eco-Villages, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Marcin Gerwin
Marcin Gerwin: In many cities there are problems with traffic jams. The streets are clogged with cars and as a response mayors build new roads or widen the streets. Old buildings are demolished to make way for new lanes so that a highway running through the middle of the city could be built. Would you say that this is the right way forward?Comments (0)
Building, Urban Projects, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros December 6, 2012
By Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros. First published in Metropolis Magazine.
Though overshadowed by his written work, Alexander’s built work has been
prodigious, with some 300 buildings around the world. Above, a title image
from a 2009 exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Chances are, you have heard of Christopher Alexander because of his most famous book on architecture, A Pattern Language. What you may not know is that Alexander’s work has spawned a remarkable revolution in technology, producing a set of innovations ranging from Wikipedia to The Sims. If you have an iPhone, you may be surprised to know that you have Alexander’s technology in your pocket. The software that runs the apps is built on a pattern language programming system.
How did an architect come to have such influence in the world of software — and as it turns out, a lot of other fields? (To name a few: biology, ecology, organization theory, business management, and manufacturing.) It’s a fascinating story — and it might just have something to say about the state of architecture today, and where it might be headed.Comments (1)
Building, Energy Systems — by Tim Barker November 8, 2012
The first post on the rocket oven left many with more questions than they started with so this is a follow up to cover some aspects in more detail. It would probably help to re read the first article and my replies to comments as I’m just going to forge ahead with more detail on the design.
On my first design I was prepared, even expecting, to have to modify things to get it to work properly. One fundamental question I had was how small the rocket oven cross section could be and still do the job.
I consciously made the decision to start with the smallest cross section I thought would work which just happened to coincide with some square section of steel I had lying around. This was 90 mm square (3.5 inches). The plan was then to work my way up in size as needed. It’s a good idea and simplifies construction if you keep the cross section constant all the way through the rocket stove part of the design (feed tube, burn tunnel, heat riser) — this reduces turbulence and restrictions where you don’t want them.Comments (9)