Building, DVDs/Books, Eco-Villages, Society, Village Development — by Oyvind Holmstad June 19, 2011
The goal of permaculture is to reunite man with nature and man with man through design systems, and here patterns play an important role. Still, patterns can only reunite humans with natural systems and with each other, not with the geometry of the universe. Surely in what I like to call permatecture, better known as biophilic architecture, biotecture or neurotecture, patterns are crucial. But for the creation of wholeness and life we need a whole range of tools.
When “A Pattern Language” was first published in 1977, architects immediately assumed that it was a design manual, and used it to generate some very interesting buildings. Those buildings, despite their positive human qualities, lack an overall coherence, and people did not understand why this was happening. The reason is that the Patterns provide essential and necessary constraints, and not a design method in itself. The actual design algorithm was developed by Alexander, but only many years later. – Twelve Lectures on Architecture, by Nikos A. Salingaros, page 106
Building, Consumerism, DVDs/Books, Eco-Villages, Land, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Oyvind Holmstad June 17, 2011
This timeless book from Christopher Alexander was released back in the seventies, and it’s just as much a book on philosophy as on architecture. Still, the main purpose of the book is as an introduction to A Pattern Language.
Alexander’s architectural writings at the same time develop a philosophy of nature and life. He proposes a more profound connection between nature and the human mind than is presently allowed either in science, or in architecture. Alexander sees the universe as a coherent whole, encompassing feelings as well as inanimate matter. This strongly Taoist viewpoint was first developed in his book The Timeless Way of Building (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).
To some readers, this is a book on architecture written in a philosophical style; to many others, it is a book on philosophy with architectural examples. A large number of people have embraced the philosophy of the Timeless Way of Building, finding in it universal truths on how man interacts with the world. Towards the end of his life, the philosopher and teacher J. Krishnamurti enjoyed having sections from the Timeless Way read to him each evening. – Nikos A. Salingaros
For this reason another name on the book could just as well have been The Timeless Way of Living.Comments (6)
Building — by Peter Cowman June 4, 2011
Editor’s note: If you didn’t notice already, Peter is looking to share some talks and workshops in Sydney. It certainly looks like he knows his stuff. Anyone interested should head here to learn more.
Embracing a sustainable way of life involves changing how we provide ourselves with food and shelter.
by Peter Cowman
Permaculture has been phenomenally successful at providing a practical, workable and accessible system of natural food production. By comparison the natural building movement has been much less successful at disseminating practical information about the creation of buildings to support a sustainable way of life.
In traditional societies people provided for their own needs in regards to food and shelter. The industrial revolution changed this pattern. People abandoned this so-called ‘subsistence’ way of life in favour of a job culture and an urban existence. Instead of spending time building one’s own home and producing one’s own food, people converted their time into money by working and used this money to provide for their needs on the open market. The commodification of food and shelter that resulted from this has now led to a situation where the quality of much of what is eaten is suspect and the homes provided by the market are overly expensive and of dubious quality.Comments (8)
The monster tornadoes that recently tore through the South Midwest did more than destroy property. As they shredded homes and other buildings they also released deadly environmental hazards. The most common of these are lead paint and asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that easily breaks into small fibers that can linger in the air. When breathed, asbestos fibers can settle in the lungs and do a lot of damage, including cause the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma. And any ingestion of lead can cause lead poisoning.Comments (0)
Building — by Peter Cowman June 3, 2011
I will be in Sydney in August, available to deliver illustrated talks & workshops from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th, 2011.
Living Architecture is all about exploring the invisible parts of our houses and the invisible parts of ourselves with a view to creating low-cost, low-impact eco-buildings suited to our lives and to the life of the planet.
This fascinating experience allows us to discover ‘the architect inside’. This is essentially an uncovering of the ancient sheltermaking wisdom which survives in our genes.
Because we have forgotten how to shelter ourselves we are now prey to an economy intent on taking full advantage of this vulnerability. Taking back control of our shelter allows us to take back control of our lives.Comments (5)
Animal Forage, Animal Housing, Building, Compost, Fencing, Livestock, Plant Systems, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Milkwood Permaculture May 30, 2011
Gravity and chickens are two of our favorite natural forces at Milkwood Farm. Chickens scratch, poo, give eggs and good company, plus a trillion other benefits. Gravity draws things down. Great if you want stuff to end up down the bottom. Which, in the case of our gravity fed chicken house, we do!Comments (15)
Aid Projects, Building, Courses/Workshops, Energy Systems, Land, Retrofitting, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Doug Weatherbee May 21, 2011
Note by Owen Hablutzel: This article from Doug Weatherbee speaks to why the skills and approach of Permaculture are becoming increasingly recognized among international development communities as being necessary and often more useful on-the-ground than conventional ‘development’ approaches for achieving often complex and practical goals in the difficult circumstances often encountered where people, livelihoods, basic needs, and struggling economies intersect. The Permaculture approach can broaden the scope and greatly increase the ‘toolbox’ available, while keeping these elements related and connected through attention to the context and larger whole. Now, more than ever, the world is ready for more Permaculture! What can you do to further prepare to meet this expanding need?
by Doug Weatherbee, Center for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability
To a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.
In many development aid projects around the world, not-for-profits (NFPs) are doing valuable work solving problems for communities and regions. Many of us who have done some sort of development aid work come to these communities with the NFP’s focus area (for example, clean drinking water, sanitation, or agricultural projects) and a set of NFP aid workers who are trained in the NFP focus area. However, when we land on the ground, in real communities and regions, the problems don’t necessarily stay contained within the narrow box of the NFP’s focus or the expertise of its workers. "The real world of people living, eating and growing food, having shelters, dealing with sanitation, having clean drinking water, staying warm or cool, creating families and communities, all of this is a rich mixture, and its problems and solutions don’t often fit into tiny neat boxes," says Jim Hallock, of Tierra Y Cal, who has experience building sustainable shelters in Haiti, South and Central America, and Africa. "When I show up in Haiti to help build a school or a clinic I’m asked about how to grow a food garden or deal with drinking water contamination."
The conundrum so often experienced is that NFP workers are unprepared to deal with aspects of the larger community or regional problems outside the scope of their skills or the not-for-profit’s focus. Sometimes aid workers need a screwdriver, and all they have is a hammer.Comments (2)
Building — by Oyvind Holmstad April 28, 2011
Our generation has willingly chosen to promote and build anxiety-producing buildings, while at the same time destroying what is left of life-enhancing geometries. The media is successful in convincing the rest of the world to import these designs into the remotest regions of the world, and to erase their own architectural traditions. The developing world has been sold the image of anxiety-producing architecture as the key to modernization, and as being essential for social and economic progress. – Nikos A. Salingaros, Twelve Lectures on Architecture, page161
Kigali’s master plan. Illustration: World Architecture News
Building, Land — by Manuel Gross April 26, 2011
Solar modules are very common all over the world. Unfortunately it is a high energy effort to make them and expensive materials are required.
That’s why we should make them more effective. Most solar panels are fixed in place, which is not very effective because the sun moves the whole day. The solar tracker helps to adjust to the movement of the sun to ensure the most effective position of the solar module. A solar tracker can also be used for solar cookers.
There are some commercial trackers available but it is easy to built it yourself with a minimum of technical skills.
I used strong geared motors and four solar cells (12V, 100mA) for the control device. The system tracks according to the amount of current flowing over the single solar cells. If the sun moves the aluminium sheet casts shade on one solar cell. There are then different amounts of current flowing over the cells and the whole device rotates until the solar tracker is parallel to the sun.
This systems has to be improved because it’s not perfect, but I hope you get the idea.Comments (2)
Building, People Systems, Village Development — by Oyvind Holmstad April 21, 2011
While the corporations and the starchitects (walking hand in hand) try to sell us “freedom” through techno-utopia, using images of anti-nature-architecture as the future of sustainability, like Masdar City, we still have teachers showing us the Timeless Way back to Earth. One of them is David Sheen, the creator of the documentary film First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture. In the following movie you can see him at his TEDx-Talk in Johannesburg, South Africa, discussing the true future of sustainable architecture. This future is of course timeless, and what can be more timeless than earth, a fundamental part of human biophilia since the down of man.
Building, Courses/Workshops — by Tagari April 20, 2011Comments (5)
Aid Projects, Building — by Stacia Nordin April 18, 2011
We are helping to collect funds to build a sustainable classroom for one of our best performing schools in Malawi. The classroom will be built with mud and thatch technologies that are easy to maintain (to look like the picture here). The funds will pay for a team of builder-trainers to come to the school for a week to work with the school community to build the new classroom.
I visited the school with the Ministry of Education and Agriculture last week and we gave the school a score of 93 percent for School Health and Nutrition (SHN) performance – the only school we’ve ever given such a high score in the short time that the School Health and Nutrition programme has been running. We were amazed at their progress. Below you can read a bit of background and some specific details about the school project.Comments (1)
Bird Life, Building, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Livestock, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees — by Chuck Burr April 11, 2011
by Chuck Burr
Here is the Spring collection of permaculture tips and tricks from the Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute. Enjoy. The top photo is the winter Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course students getting a little help from the chickens to establish a block-rotation intense veggie garden in Zone 1 at Restoration Farm.Comments (1)
Building, Energy Systems — by Max Vittrup Jensen April 8, 2011
The housing industry has slowly developed itself for a century or so in the cheap oil economy, and is now well-rooted and developed in the market and minds. As subsequent use of constructed buildings normally spans over long time intervals, it is historically a conservative area of the economy, and the field shows a great reluctance to change. This is true at each of its levels (producers, retailers, designers, consumers, etc.). This is especially true when changing means questioning the commonly accepted buildings practices, techniques and materials. In consequence, it is still oriented around cheap and easy to use products with little concern about the wider environmental impacts inherent with the longevity of its products.Comments (3)
Building, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Land, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Oyvind Holmstad April 6, 2011
Norway is said to be a social democratic country, which means a 50 – 50 percent mixture of socialism and capitalism. The catch is that in the end there is no difference between these two ideologies. It is like mixing water with water — no matter how well you blend them, or in what ratio, the finished product is modernism. A separation of function (and people) is one of, or maybe even the most important dogma of, modernism, with devastating consequences for human life. This separation was common in the former USSR, and is common in today’s USA.
Here we can see the radical nature of Berry’s vision. Our entire economy, our very culture of work, leisure, and home is constructed around the idea of easy mobility and the disintegration of various aspects of our lives. We live in one place, work in another, shop in another, worship in another, and take our leisure somewhere else. According to Berry, an integrated life, a life of integrity, is one characterized by membership in a community in which one lives, works, worships, and conducts the vast majority of other human activities. The choice is stark: “If we do not live where we work, and when we work, we are wasting our lives, and our work too.” - Wendell Berry and the New Urbanism: Agrarian Remedies, Urban Prospects
The artificial separation of houses and work creates intolerable rifts in people’s inner lives. - Christopher Alexander