Azula Eco Community, Portugal

Off grid eco community: earth roundhouses, communal kitchen, compost heated showers, compost toilets, biogas, water + solar system, co-teaching permaculture design courses (PDC).

The project is a dream realised and lead by the Azula owners Anna, Chris, Alon and Pnina. SAWA collective member Paul, lead the appropriate technologies aspect of the project: compost heating system, solar, biogas and plumbing, as well as collaborating on the design and build of the natural buildings. Lola and Kyle of Surplus Permaculture, the resident teachers at Azula, are key collaborators critical to making the whole project an ongoing success. Not to mention a tribe of wonderful volunteers helping lifting spirits to get every piece in place. Together we can achieve so much!

The shared vision of two families to create ‘a Garden of Eden’ in three little valleys 4 kms from Sao Luis in Southern Portugal. Just 10 km from the coast and national park. The site welcomes Volunteers, Visitors and Students to come learn and live within the community in the beautiful wilderness. The site was once over farmed farmland, and much of the soil fertility has been lost. The community bit by bit is re planting and growing the landscape back into beautiful natural habitat for wild flowers, birds, insects and plants.

The community runs yoga and meditation retreats and other sports events on their hilltop yoga platform. Guests stay in the stunning lotus tents, with their own, compost heated showers and compost loos. It is well worth a visit to stay and learn how to live with abundance in nature, eating organic food, sharing in the communities’ love and wellness. It is amazing what we can achieve when we work together, when a shared vision of many comes together.

Volunteer round houses made from the rich clay earth dug onsite. The cob composted on onsite clay and straw, was plastered on thick to a metal mesh to make the infill walls. Opening formed with glass bottles. 

The roof structure was pole timber local wood roof, making in a reciprocal round opening in the centre. Creating the low cost self buildable roof: wooden horizontal struts between pole timber rafters,  layered up with a protection layer, water membrane, then straw and chicken wire mesh finish. To give a natural thatched feel. With a rammed earth natural floor finish and burnt hand made timber furniture, you really feel you are living at one with nature. 

We worked in collaboration on the design of the various natural builds. The kitchen is made from timber found and local burned timbers and bamboo. The structure is open to the garden and landscape, where the community gathers to eat three times a day. 

We worked, designed and built Azula’s energy and water system. Using solar, biogas and compost, gravity as its main sources of energy. Water was collected from roofs and pumped from a man made lake to the top of hill to give pressured, filtered onsite local tap water to all areas of the site. The solar system ran lights and the kitchen fridge. Bio digester provides cooking gas to cook on. Paul invented, designed and built a unique system of heating water from compost. 

Testimony from Owners
‘Paul is a highly motivated, very positive, knowledgable and inspiring person… he co taught the appropriate technology class with Lola and Kyle / Surplus permaculture, helped us on the natural buildings, invented the spiral compost shower system… We appreciated his help and great sprit very much. Thank you Paul!’

Build Area