I created a plan for a subdivision that aspired to be truly sustainable, based on permaculture and ecological design principles. It would be like an eco-village, as a part of an existing town.
The subdivision had to have a high density, as was required by Dutch standards. It was desirable to maintain this density to make the model more realistically executable in today's society. The lower allowable density was necessary to be able to accommodate some agricultural and recreational functions.
The subdivision includes an orchard, a park, a nature area, a farm that doubles as a petting zoo, a living machine (to process 'black water' into fertilizer and methane gas), windmills for power, grey water processing in the integrated water system, offices and light industrial facilities.
The residences are oriented to optimize passive solar, while they all incorporate P.V. panels and solar water panels on the roofs. They are laid out to accommodate community gardens and other green (recreational) space.
Of course, the subdivision is free of motorized vehicles, with a designated parking area and a railway station at the perimeter.
On one of the larger parcels I designed a self-sufficient, off grid house that would have enough room for a family, an office and animals, surrounded by food producing gardens. This house earned the title 'Eco Villa', as it turned out to be a fairly large building.
The concept of Eco Villa consists of a highly insulated straw bale wall, shielding the home from the cold North while opening up to the warmth of the South.
Storage area and stables are located in the north part of the building while the living and working spaces are arranged on the south side.
The south part of the Eco-Villa houses an office for 6 people, a workshop and a space to make cheese on the 1st level, the living spaces and part of the office are located on the 2nd level and the bed rooms and the bath room are on the 3rd level.
The north part of the house has a root cellar on the 1st, a stable and bike storage on the 2nd, hay storage on the 3rd and a recreational space on the 4th level, with a roof garden on top.
In between is an awe-inspiring hall connecting all spaces centrally, minimizing the required traffic space and buffering the warm living spaces from the cold storage and animal spaces. Wood storage for the masonry stoves is incorporated in the massive walls.
The greenhouses function as a heat buffer, passive solar collectors, food production and grey water processing plant.
The materials specified are mostly natural or recycled. The foundation is brick, the walls straw bale, brick and glass, the wooden floors and a straw bale insulated roof are supported by a post and beam structure.
Heating is provided by the sun and several masonry heaters of very high efficiency, needing to burn only2 hours a day.
P.V. panels and a windmill provide for power, while high efficient appliances and low voltage lights minimize the amount required.
Rain water is collected by the roof, providing the inhabitants for all necessary water needs.
Hot Water for washing, bathing an heating is generated by solar water heaters on the roof and the wood stoves throughout the house.
Waste water, minimized by the use of compost toilets and low use water faucets and wash machine, is directed to the greenhouse to irrigate the plants growing there.
The greenhouses, gardens and orchard, designed with perma-culture principles, provide for most of the food of the family and animals that inhabit the house. A little forest of fast growing trees on the North side of the house provides for firewood, sheltering the house from the cold as it grows.
Foyer view of clay model