Building — by Geoff Lawton March 5, 2011
Here we are looking at options for building alternative structures, especially small buildings for the suburbs which can accommodate people in a sustainable way in urban gardens.
Small buildings made of natural materials like rammed earth, cob and straw bale with bamboo, timber, tile, slate and small stone inclusions, can all be built by hand in small urban permaculture gardens that provide good human food and sanctuary.
I have included here photographs showing appropriate small buildings from a demonstration site in San Francisco at the home of Lindsay Dailey, one of our PRI team. There are some very interesting features here, including the use of Tadelakt, a Moroccan system of ceiling render with polished lime render using a river stone and a soft soap sealer. Many different varieties of recycled materials and other appropriate building materials that are easily replaceable, like bamboo and small timbers, straw and mud have been used.
This site has simple cooking systems and retrofits of standard buildings so that alternative insulation materials ensure appropriate energy use. It also has garden seats and all kinds of other attractive features.
It is a wonderful example of what people can do for themselves to make living conditions appropriate, down scaled, economic, easy to maintain, easy to replace and energy efficient. All this is possible in amongst urban food production. This is the future of the urban landscape of humanity — safe, sensible, comfortable, energy efficient, characteristic human habitat, with waste stream productivity benefiting the environment, minimal food time, zero food miles, zero food guilt, and meaningful lives in a caring, sharing community.