Friday, 16 January 2009

Sustainable Building, day 1

Wow, what a busy day! Packed full with interesting sites and useful information. But don't feel overwhelmed, guys, as the guru would say: it is principles that count most, and not so much information, which you can get from quite a few sources.

First stop was Evelyn's and Johan's construction site in Selat. It was quite exciting to see a house being built and to talk about different options, possibilities, choices and from many different points of view: the point of view of the permaculturist, of the land developer, of the clients, of the local workers and builders, of the other westerners who have built houses and businesses on the island.

Again, there were principles and issues emerged from the actuality of the construction:

The house we are building should be energy-efficient and, ideally, self-sufficient energy-wise.

Orientation and shape matters. A good shape is a rectangle, positioned so that the narrow sides face east and west, which will make it cooler in a hot climate like the Balinese.

Try to reduce the energy-intensive materials, like concrete, and try to use more natural, eco-friendly resources, preferably found around the area you are building, like timber trees from local farms.

My favourite for today was: think what home means to you, freedom, security, privacy, protection, and try to keep this in mind while you are building it. Something like a mission statement for your house. Actually Evelyn and Johan wrote down their mission statement for their house, cool!

Our next stop was Victor's grass roof-top house . This was an impressive construction of two concrete buildings with rooftops covered with grass. Victor explained how grass is good for the environment, because it produces a lot of oxygen, filters water and acts as a great insulator which keeps the house really cool, but I will not go into any more details because I risk to get dismissed from the workshop by the guru. (For those who don't speak Indonesian, 'guru' means 'teacher' in Indonesian, not only 'spiritual teacher', although Norman can be pretty 'cosmic' at times..)

Victor has built a water storage system of great capacity and he shared with us how he has clearly seen the water supply deteriorating in the area due to human activity and climate change.

Next stop was the 'Windows to the world' school in Buanasari. A small school for local and western kids, aiming to bring together children from the two 'worlds', and give them diverse education in language, art and sports.

A nice little school with four classrooms a playground and a garden, which will serve as the ground for our first exercise as budding permaculture designers: think about how this place could be redesigned or improved in order to become more interesting to the children from a permaculture perspective. Let's see what we'll come up with...

Last stop was Satya's house and land in Buanasari. Satya has an ongoing project to build a small number of villas which will share a garden, swimming pool and spa centre. There we saw a real example of what termites can do to a structure, a nice lumbung Satya has built in the property. Norman looked for possible paths that the termites use to get into the house from the soil; remember, the most efficient pest control is environmental management and not pesticides' use.

This was a really long and full day, but Norman had not quite finished with us yet. He took out the trunk of his car a pile of new interesting books for us. I only managed to borrow a couple, which I added to the books list. The rest will come in the next two days, when I manage to get hold of them, yummy!

Oh yes, we had new students today, Annette and Gina (I hope I got the names right :/), who came together with their builders and workers. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! And a warm welcome to Linda, Lynda and Glen, who are joining electronically, for the time being!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Elena! I just managed to put a link into my blog while you described the whole day so heartfully. A joy to read it.