Courses Get Inspired Get PermaCultured Organizations Resources Stories

DAY 10: Group Design Process and Designing for the Tropics (PDC 2010 with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton)

Design Research

our piece of land to design
our piece of land to design

This is a photo of the paddock we are working with. As you can see, it’s mostly an open field sheltered by the surrounding buildings and a tiny amount of slope.

land maps, research, surrounding structures
land maps, research, surrounding structures

We did some homework and found an aerial view of the property on Google Maps and a campus map, which accurately outlines the surrounding structures.

Equipped with these tools, we set to work.

Group Dynamics

We set outside at the highest point of the paddock with a blackboard and a box of chalk, trying to fit in all the elements, but it was obvious that our design process was not very efficient…too many drivers and not enough focus…

conversations, dynamics
conversations, dynamics

We had to radically change our approach, as we only had 1.5 hours remaining to complete the design. Since we already had a rough idea of the layout from yesterday’s session, we decided to split into smaller groups of 2-3 people and work on each of the zones separately.

It was fantastic! After about 30 minutes of intense small-group work, the groups arrived at workable solutions for their particular elements. We reconvened again and started putting the pieces back together with each of the zones going on a separate sheet of tracing paper.

things are moving forward, and we are sketching our final design
things are moving forward, and we are sketching our final design

In the end, we finished with all the elements fitted, and Tracy re-drew the whole design onto yet another piece of tracing paper and we photographed it. Here it is!

finished design sketch
finished design sketch

Climate Zones: Arid, Tropics, Temperate

In the afternoon, we were back in the classroom and we talked about specifics of design for three major climate zones: arid, tropical and temperate.

Tropics got the most interest, however, since there are so many people living (and dying) in the third-world counties, which have tropical climate. ALL of the issues that third-world aide organizations claim to work on can be solved by following these 7 rules for house construction.

7 Rules for House Construction in the Tropics

  1. Orient the house to the wind for cooling and ventilation. Tropics are very humid, so tropical house design needs to counteract moldy conditions.
  2. Create full shade for the house, at least between 9am and 3pm.
  3. Make sure that there is minimal thermal mass in the house structure. We don’t want to store heat or cold in the tropics.
  4. Place the kitchen outside to prevent heat from entering the house.
  5. Collect drinking water from the roof. Most ground water in the tropics is polluted, so roofs are the only safe source of drinking water.
  6. Add insect screens on the windows and beds (modern materials can be used for this, since it’s hard to make nets from locally sourced materials).
  7. Provide safe toilets!! Kids are dying as I write this post from cholera and typhoid because of human manure run off. Best thing to do in the tropics is to place a composting toilet with two chambers and plenty of ventilation. When one chamber is filled, it’s sealed off and allowed to rest for 3 months, after which it becomes compost and can be used on the garden.

Comfortable hygienic house combined with a kitchen garden for healthy food production makes life in the tropics very comfortable.

All for now…Can’t believe the course is over in two days!