Category: Building

High on Permaculture in the Rocky Mountains (video)

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Kris Holstrom’s off-grid permaculture farm at 9000 feet high is living proof that food can be grown nearly anywhere. Managing with a very short growing season and water constraints, she and her interns have created magic. Tour the sun-warmed, insulated greenhouse where greens are grown year-round. It’s home to a waterfall and pond with fish, trellises for grapes and seedlings, artwork for the soul, and mushrooms growing from straw. The […]

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Building with Mud, and How to Build a Cob Oven

Cob is an earthen building material that is made of clay, sand, straw, and water. It has been used for thousands of years to construct homes and buildings. It has been used worldwide, but has only recently started to attract interest from Western countries. Cob has its origins in millennia of traditional building, in some of the oldest permanent human dwellings. Humans have made shelters this way for so long […]

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How to: Making Eco-Bricks (Costa Rica)

Finished bottles. Remember, one’s trash is another’s treasure! Last year I worked on making cob walls for a chicken coop, after attending a natural building course over a weekend which taught me about bahareque, the Central American equivalent of cob, if you will, which is adapted for tropical climates and for heavily seismic areas. The teacher, Eduardo Valverde, who is a Costa Rican green architect well versed in natural, indigenous […]

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Rob’s Modified Walipini

When a friend of mine told me that they wanted to build a walipini, my first reaction was, of course, “what the heck is a walipini?” The answer was simple: a walipini is an underground passive solar style greenhouse. It’s an innovative and potentially inexpensive way to grow food in our cold northern climate. When I checked out the pinterest photo though,  I noticed some major flaws in the design […]

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Can Earth Building Scale Up to the Mainstream? Robert Alcock on the Power of Keeping It Small

Rob Hopkins: Our recent post about Kevin McCabe’s ‘cob citadel’ and what we might learn from it about ‘scaling up’ generated a lot of debate and discussion. Robert Alcock, a cob self-builder living in Spain commented that “the really great thing about cob is that it is an inherently anti-mainstream material”. Intrigued, and wanting to hear more of his own story, I asked him if he might share his thoughts […]

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Zed Eco-homes (India)

Every so often an individual is given exposure to another individual so wildly dynamic that it confuses, entertains, but most of all, inspires. This is how I would describe meeting Dr. Hariharan Chandreshekar, CEO of Biodiversity Conservation India Limited (BCIL), the company that designs and manufactures some of the most renowned eco-homes on the planet.

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Brooklyn Grange: A Rooftop Farm in New York (video)

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Geoff Lawton at Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm “That view behind me is not a painted backdrop!” said Geoff Lawton to the camera. But the view looked great from where I was standing. Brooklyn Grange is a rooftop farm with a magnificent view looking over the Manhattan skyline. Sited on a concrete roof, totaling 2.5 acres and producing over 50,000 lbs of organically-grown vegetables each year, you need to walk its […]

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Creating a Bamboo and Mud Yurt at the Art of Living Permaculture Centre, Bangalore, India

We wanted to create a natural building out of bamboo and mud on our site in Bangalore, India, as this project involved learning experiences too. However, our professional colleague who was to help us with building this structure couldn’t make it owing to personal preoccupations. Thus began our experimentation in coming up with a plan to build a bamboo and mud teaching centre. We came up with a simple Mongolian […]

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A Vision for Architecture as More Than the Sum of Its Parts

How Modernist Fundamentalism degrades the human and natural environment. by Michael W. Mehaffy & Nikos A. Salingaros Historic Paris and other beloved neighborhoods around the world teach us that streets are the river of life. (Photo by Dirk Haun under a Creative Commons license from flickr.com) Many research studies show a remarkable divergence between the way architects see their work and the way non-architects do — to such a degree […]

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