Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Migrating Culture

MIGRATING CULTURE is an African/American design campaign creatively established in 2006 with key projects in Ghana, West Africa. The original concept  was to organize a consortium of artisans that would enable a cultural exchange both locally (Ghana) and worldwide.

Its founder, Brandon Rogers, is based in Ghana and has a strong background in architectural design and interest in the construction industry. Brandon has collaborated with local architecture firms, non-profit organizations, and numerous local builders and professionals throughout a number of rural villages. With the knowledge and perspective gained from both his research and in-field experiences, Brandon began to promote sustainable/ green building techniques as alternative solutions to the traditional methods.

Brandon has focused on earthbag building as a technique which the average rural family could utilize to build stronger, more efficient homes. To date Brandon and the diverse team of tradesmen and youth apprentices have constructed three projects, which display the possibilities of the earth bag wall system and other green methods.

If you visit their website you can see many examples of the fine building projects they have completed. I applaud their efforts and the results.

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Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Dan Phillips turns backyard scraps into whimsical Texan houses

Dan Phillips’ company, Phoenix Commotion, turns trash into homes, employs “unskilled” workers and creates shelter for low-income families. Phillips is trying to show that there are many good reasons to reuse construction waste and provide a whimsical alternative to mobile homes or other affordable housing. With no formal training in architecture or construction, Phillips is a self-taught carpenter, plumber and electrician, but he has no problem complying with local building codes. This video visits his plumbed-and-wired treehouse home built in an artist’s compound, his “bone house” (made from donations from the “bone yards” of local ranchers) and his latest project, a home shaped like a cowboy boot.

You can also see TEDx talk that he did on this post.

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Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Natural Building and a New Sense of the Earth

This nearly one hour video program features some of the luminaries of the natural building movement and is well worth watching. In addition to the many interviews are some luscious images of the process and result of fine natural craftsmanship.

Meet Linda Smiley and Ianto Evans who pioneered cob building in the U.S. and who now run the North American School of Natural Building in Coquille, Oregon where they and their students have used natural building methods to create a little village. Coenraad and Courtney Rogmans took a piece of undeveloped land, built straw bale and cob buildings complete with solar electricity and a water catchment system, and now teach natural building workshops. Taylor Starr at White Oak Farm, an organic farm and educational center, is putting the final touches on a striking timber-framed straw bale and cob community center. Brendan Flanagan, with his family and friends, turned a remote wooded hillside into a snug community of homes and gardens. Rob Bolman, an advocate of incorporating natural building techniques into mainstream building practices, created an ecovillage in the middle of Eugene, Oregon, and speaks passionately about the link between natural building and social justice. Meka Bunch, after only a week-long workshop, built his own elegant cob cottage and now works sharing natural building with people abroad. And Kiko Denzer, a sculptor and cob builder, and his wife Hannah, an organic gardener and baker, transformed a dilapidated outbuilding in the country into a cozy cob home surrounded by beautiful gardens.

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Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

The Bizarre Houseboats of Brittan

In West Sussex, England, a small community has formed around a colony of bizarre houseboats. Using spare parts from old buses, missiles and planes, each boat has its own unique look and feel. Among the residents of the community is Hamish McKenzie. An imaginative houseboat renovator, he’s incorporated his wacky and creative personality to create a truly spectacular home. From a microwave as a mailbox to the nose of a jumbo jet as a window, Hamish infuses glorious new life into discarded objects.

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Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Forest Gardening in Practice

I have been developing a bit of a forest garden in my urban back yard, so when Tomas Remiarz’s new book, Forest Gardening in Practice, was offered as a prize at I decided to see if I could win a copy. I am pleased to report that I actually did win a copy of this very informative book.

It features an in depth look at the history of the development of forest gardens, or food forests, and why they are becoming so popular around the world. The concept is only about three decades old, and seems to have taken root in Great Britain, where Robert Hart was an early adopter. His property is one of many around the world that are profiled as case histories in the book.

This approach to gardening draws heavily on permaculture principles, so the importance of understanding how ecosystems evolve with many layers of plants, soil, insects, humans and other animals is stressed. There is a step-by-step guide to how to create your own food forest. The book is heavily illustrated with color photographs and other imagery.

Forest Gardening in Practice  is intended for private gardens as well as community endeavors. And then if you get the bug to go into business with your forest garden, there is much advice for doing that as well. All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the concept of maximizing the potential edible output of your land in an ecologically benign way.

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Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Multi-Unit Residential Building Plans

Owen Geiger is a prolific designer of simple and elegant housing solutions. Among his many designs are a number of multi-unit dwellings that could accommodate a range of multiple families or various living arrangements. I have recently compiled a page at that shows six of Owen’s designs that are for sale. I’ll post pictures of these below to give you an idea of how interestingly varied they are.

Double Unit Ecoresort


Six Pods


Rainwater Towers Apartments

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