Building an eco village

Building an Eco-Village

Many many moons ago about 1981 I got a distinction for a project about British ideas. In Milton Keynes there was a project Greentown, and the Centre for Alternative Technology is still a leader.

Butti and Perlin was a key author. A school in Liverpool in the sixties was heated by passive solar.

But hey William Morris had most of it cracked!

Convergence: “Universal Design, Cohousing, and Economic Necessity

Spur Green Housing Project in Oaxaca, Mexico”

From Ezine @rticles by Alvin Starkman

At first blush David Hornick appears to be the most unlikely candidate to be spear-heading a housing development in the state of Oaxaca, one of the southernmost and poorest states in Mexico; his Spanish is sparse to be generous, until earlier this year he Mexican cohousing.jpg had never ventured to this part of the country, he’s never designed or built a home, and he’s lived virtually all his life in Schenectady, New York, leading a more or less typical, middle-class Jewish existence.

But Hornick had a vision, born of other life experiences which made him more qualified than most to proceed with the project. “One thing about me,” he explained on his first trip to Oaxaca, “is that once I decide to do something, you know it’s already been thoroughly considered – and then there’s no stopping me.”

For more than three decades Hornick has been a family physician, diagnosing and treating exclusively aging Americans … through home visits. He and wife Roberta, his partner in the medical practice, have
learned that where and how we traditionally live is rarely conducive to graceful and easy aging from a position of economic security.

The answer, as I’ve come to conclude over the past several months of tutelage from Hornick, at least for creating a blueprint for the solution, is to import some of the characteristics of collaborative housing (cohousing) and as many key elements as practicable of universal design, into a region of the world where the concerns can best be addressed – Oaxaca … for starters. And that’s exactly what Hornick’s done.”

Story in the LA Times:


A Bay Area architect lost his sight after tumor surgery, was so determined to keep practicing that he found and befriended possibly one of the only other practicing blind architects in the world (in Portugal), and is now consulting on a VA facility for SmithGroup.,0,975111.story

Might people with a normal range of senses miss out on understanding the whole world because we are too sight and sound focussed?

Richard Holmes in Age of Wonder describes how Herschell ( who he? – he only discovered galaxies and Uranus and built a 40 inch telescope in the late 1700s) trained himself to see the stars.

It sounds like we can train ourselves to do the most fascinating things!

Floating homes and floating eco villages!

Many people cannot now afford classic land based properties, including key workers like teachers nurses and police. A major cost of property is land. How might we remove the cost of land? By not using it!

I envisage putting together a full suite of options – creating new docks and lakes in appropriate places – land liable to flooding is probably quite cheap! – creating new floating eco villages, using existing water resources more intensively, construction of berths and moorings in existing locations and enabling a full range of options – classic marinas for yachts and canal boats, other areas for dutch barges, house boats, and on adjacent land marina type development. It would be mixed use – boat related industry, live work, offices, shops.

A full range of scales is envisaged – from very small initiatives to floating eco villages and probably towns. Like the garden cities, I would have some form of co-operative ownership. A green floating
accessible Venice?

It will require a full legal, financial, construction, servicing, maintenance and repair infrastructure. But these are only issues of project management!

Disability is another market niche. Thoughtfully designed boats and floating homes and infrastructure would make brilliant affordable retirement housing or life time homes.

And is it not an easy way to solve global warming issues, just floating up with the rising sea levels? Why not affordable family housing? why not generate energy locally – ground source, hydro, wind, solar, sewage?

My brother lives in California, and I will never forget looking over San Francisco Bay at one of many house boats, seeing someone leave theirs, jump aboard the seaplane tethered to it, and then fly off….

How might we make it so in Britain? Something small scale somewhere to test out things? It currently feels as if the property and boat and disability worlds are not cross fertilising as well as they might!

The Dutch are very experienced in this and have a critical strategic sense to make this work.

I understand the European Union is using the idea of durability – bringing together ecology, equality and economy. I would like to see us become truly accessible and sustainable.

2 thoughts on “Building an eco village

  1. Pingback: No ecovillages at Olympics! « Clivedurdle's Blog

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