We have the skills, knowledge and experience to design a range of building types to the highest standards. From houses and schools to centres for community, health, agriculture and faith, we work across a broad range of countries, pride ourselves on engaging communities with a people-centred design approach and recognise the importance of climate-suitable and environmentally-friendly design. We understand our clients’ needs to get the most from their budget and we strive to provide attractive and cost-effective building solutions, utilising locally available appropriate resources.
Eco Village Planning
We have experience planning and organising larger complexes of buildings that fit within the natural regenerative landscape. We look at the broader picture, always valuing observation over speed as a key planning tool, and wherever possible observing the site for up to a year prior to starting construction. Looking at growth over 2-10 year periods. We also make sure water, nutrient, carbon and nitrogen cycles are working locally with overall benefit to the global, it is important to plan these flows seasonally over time through the natural landscape.
We believe it is imperative to spend as much time as possible on site where we can test things, experiment with mock-ups, and ultimately live and breathe the qualities of the site in order to gain the necessary awareness of each unique contextual situation. Through this immersion in the field we use the construction process itself to make more informed design decisions. It is important for us to learn from where materials can be sourced locally and what impact we would have on the environment. When we worked alongside the villagers of Ntrama for 3 months facilitating the ‘A House For A Victim’ Project, we saw the quarry from where the stones came, the forest where the trees we harvested had been growing, the hole from where we dug lime etc.
We take people-centred design seriously and while we know that working with different communities is usually rewarding, it can also pose challenges. We have a toolkit of different ways in which we have engaged communities in the process and it is clear that learning and sharing in the local culture and finding key motivations is critical for success. We have run workshops, forums, and model-making exercises as well as offering free volunteer engagement opportunities. We have gained so much simply by sharing food, visiting the homes of local people, attending a funeral ceremony or taking part in local customs.
From natural building, to home grown organic food production, to appropriate technologies, to mindfulness based mediation practises we really approach a project from a wholistic and considerate manner. We try to take on board the permaculture teachings and 12 principles, see above diagram. We have studied natural building methods, worked with local farmers to look at environmentally-holistic life cycles of materials, and three of us have completed our Permaculture Design Course and now teach the PDC. We consider life and work to be continual learning experiences and so we are testing, improving and realising our designs all the time. For example, we observed how the water flowed and changed its flows across The Agri Tech Centre site so we caught the rain from our roofs, let it fill our tanks, then allowed it to over-flow onto the land so we could channel it to our water-hungry banana trees and then let that over-flow into our 3m deep pond, storing it for the long term throughout the dry season.
We run workshops and given lectures at universities, architecture practices and community organisations. We are happy to engage all in the process of making. Often delivery self built architectures, giving building that hand made natural touch where by people are empowered to help themselves. There is a whole host of pragmatic alternative design solutions which are cost effective and energy and cost saving. From vertical growing gardens to compost heating systems we are constantly researching and learning and teaching our process collectively for the benefit of all.
We promote and value the important of regenerative and sustainable design. It is important to design in energy efficient systems from the word go, to ensure low or zero running costs of living in the building. Cooling can be as simple as opening an window if the building designed correctly. Heating can be as simple as building a good compost heap at the back of your house to transfer heat energy through underfloor water pipes. Cooking can be a simple as a one time build biogas digester which converts your waste into biogas for cooking off. Filtration of grey water, rainwater or black water are very important, we can happily and healthily harvest and recycle this water back into in the land water cycle and environment without pollution it. We try to showcase at all our projects how to build affordable simple solutions that work on domestic scales to empower the home owner and communities to provide their own energy needs independently and autonomously. Join the Movement!