Freddie James

The UK’s First Eco Community Obtains Building Approval From Local Authorities
March 16, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Eco Design

The UK’s first eco community has been granted permission to start building a mini eco village. The community will consist of nine families who are going to build their houses from straw bale, mud and timber in the Welsh village of Glandwr.

The community is called the Lammas and the members will build four detached dwellings and a row of five attached houses on a plot of 76 acres. They’re going to live off-grid and collect their water from a spring that’s existing on site as well as from rain water captured on the turf-made roofs of their houses.

The Lammas will live a low impact lifestyle and intend to be 75% self sustainable. A major factor in this is their use of renewable energy from a water turbine system. The families are also going to depend on bio gas captured from organic waste and compost toilets and wormeries. Their low-impact life style is furthermore supported by the way they use transport; the Lammas will create fuel from coppiced willow and elephant grass grown in their mini village.

“We plan to be largely self-sufficient, growing most of our food. We will keep cows, geese, chickens, ducks and bees,” the village’s co-founder Paul Wimbush was quoted as saying in a Welsh newspaper. He added that the community members intend to supplement their income by working one day a week. The community’s plans are outlined on their website, ’so that people can see what we are talking about,’ Wimbush told

The community will largely be dependent on income from the production of flax-made linen shawls, the sale of compost worms, fruits and vegetables marketed in the community itself and in local shops.

The Lammas are the first community that has obtained official approval from UK local authorities. So far, only two local authorities have legislation in place that allows for similar projects. The Lammas did not achieve their goal without a struggle because their first plans were rejected due to lack of detail. The local authorities involved were skeptical about some of the building materials the Lammas were planning to use. It took the families five months to draw up the plans that received approval.


Four sites to become ‘eco-towns’
March 16, 2010, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Eco Design

The locations of four new “eco-towns” have been announced as part of scaled-down government plans. They are Rackheath, Norfolk; north-west Bicester, Oxfordshire; Whitehill Bordon, East Hants; and the China Clay Community near St Austell, Cornwall. Gordon Brown had announced plans to create hundreds of thousands of homes in 10 “carbon neutral” communities.

Certainly a step in the right direction, again follow the link for the full article,

IV hanging baskets
March 1, 2010, 10:34 am
Filed under: 1, Arts, Eco Design

Hanging gardens have become art in Houston’s Lawndale Art Center. Local artist/designer Ned Dodington transformed a stark white gallery interior into a verdant landscape with 30 hanging eco-pods of Fescue and Ryegrass. How are they watered you ask? Each pod is plugged into its own life supporting IV drip.

Plastic Bottle Building
February 26, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: 1, Eco Design

La Casa de Botellas, created by the Alfredo Santa Cruz family in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, was constructed from thousands of PET plastic bottles, and was designed as “a tool for promoting ecological and social responsibility.” The surprisingly sturdy structure features a Tetra pack roof, doors and windows made from CD jewel cases — and the interior boasts beds, coffee tables and couches, all created entirely from used plastic. While no one in the Santa Cruz family is an architect or engineer, they are doing their part to save the planet by providing free home building courses in Latin American countries “to address both trash [issues] and housing scarcity.” Read more about the elements of design and the construction of La Casa de Botellas at Inhabito.

Growing Buildings
February 26, 2010, 2:34 pm
Filed under: 1, Eco Design

It may sound a bit creepy, but wouldn’t it be cool if buildings could grow their own skin? California-basedarchitecture firm Faulders Studio certainly thinks so. GEOtube, their proposal for Dubai is almost exactly like a normal building – except for the fact that it will have the ability to generate a web-like saline skin that spreads down the façade of the structure over time. Sounds like neighbors will always know where they can borrow some salt!

The city of Dubai is located close to Persian Gulf, which has the world’s highest salinity for ocean water, so the plan calls for the skin of the building to be made of salt (yes, salt!). Water from the Gulf would be transported to the GEOtube via a 4.62 km buried pipeline and misted onto the tower’s mesh substructure meaning that, in essence, it would be made of local materials.

When the water evaporates, salt deposits will be left behind forming the tower’s exo-skeleton. While this isn’t the most eco-friendly project (transporting the water through the tube undoubtedly uses a lot of energy), GEOtube is an organic, ever-evolving sculpture, the skin would serve as a place for local wildlife to hang out and, according to the architects, it would serve as an “accessible surface for the harvesting of crystal salt.” We’re not quite sure about that last part – would locals be knocking down parts of the building so that they could season their dinner?

Erb cake?
February 26, 2010, 2:16 pm
Filed under: 1, Eco Design

Growing and sharing greenery has never been easier or more fun! This OSUSOWAKE (which means sharing in Japanese) planter uses a new lightweight material called Puffcal to grow plants. Once the seedlings sprout, you can cut up and divide the material to distribute to friends and family. It’s a piece of cake, and it looks like one too!

Vertical Food Gardens
February 11, 2010, 4:33 pm
Filed under: 1, Eco Design

Recently the Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts hosted a Baltimore Infill Survey to track proposals for solutions to the many vacant lots that are scattered across the city. A recent look at the current entries show quite a few focusing on community gardens as a viable solution. And why not? A garden would provide food as well as a gathering spot for the community around it. Anyone interested in how this could be instituted should make a trip to the National Building Museum next week as Robin Osler, principal in charge of Elmslie Osler Architects will be speaking about her firm’s success in Vertical Farming. Check out this article in the October issue of Architectural Record which describes The Urban Farming Food Project, a proposal to create a walking path of Living Walls that provide food for the homeless in LA’s Skid Row.

Ideas for Vertical Farms have been sprouting up all over the place from New York to Dubai. Proponents of the concept believe that farming up will reduce the need for farmland and produce more food for more people while using less resources. Vertical farming would reduce transportation costs and provide year round sustenance for the surrounding city.