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The Living Home – a holistic home design concept

The Living Home – a holistic home design concept

Who am I if not myself?

For a very long time, all across the west we have approached home design as a collection of separate features to serve us, the individual. Making sure that our homestead fills that “thing”. That little chunk, missing within ourselves. Ocean views, wide screen TV, natural finishes, gardens, large functional kitchens, a vintage margarita machine perhaps?

However, I put to you that it has only helped us contribute efficiently to the big ol’ separation. Separation from humanity and separation from ourselves. We build roofs to shed water away from ourselves, obsolete sewerage systems and homes which are designed with little to none of our true, individual and collective purposes in life.

The old saying ‘home is where the heart is’ could not be closer to the truth, if it tried. Think about it. Home is the sanctuary, the cave, the place where you feel safe in recharging your soul, processing all of life’s challenges and opportunities. Home is a tool for your prosperity.

The oxford dictionary describes it as – “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”.

Picture of a tipi with a sunrise in the background

tipi sunrise at the Living Home school

It is where one ‘lives’. Think to yourself, where do you live? As in, where do you feel most alive? It could be at your house… But then again, it could be when you are walking to work, the cold breeze whisking past your bare face while you ponder your wildest dreams and fantasies. Perhaps you feel most alive when you are going for a swim, running naked through the woods, playing video games on your computer, scavenging for second hand building materials, making love, riding horses, drinking with your friends. To be alive (home) can mean so much more than a building that people sleep in.

This is very important when it comes to design. To design a house, or a home, is to essentially design a state of being. A tool for one’s prosperity. Everything is so perfect in its diversity that when you look at standardisation in design, words like ‘obsolete’ and ‘unfortunate’ begin to dance around in your mind like a drunk mayor, trying to find his way home.

Have you met someone who talks about and discusses their dream of leaving the busy city life for an off-grid, natural lifestyle? You can see the glimmer in their eye and the romance in their voice as they paint the perfect picture of their desires. It usually includes things like a ‘solar powered home’ or chickens in the yard and a vegetable patch.

a picture of an earthbag home being built in a subtropical rainforest

working on the wizard home in kyogle

‘The Living Home’ design concept explores the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of those desires. The concept is more of a process or an evolution of design. It is arranged as a series of questions and statements for the adventurer to explore and make sense of themselves. It covers areas of self purpose, environment, culture, society, creativity, community, dogma, practicalities, evolution and death. You can begin at any stage of the process, as long as you follow it through to the end and make at least three revolutions of the entire process.

The reasoning behind this is that our learning in life never seizes. Life is full of evaluations and re-evaluations. This usually leads to achievements and miscalculations. Both of which, lead to further learning. Knowing this, it starts to become clear that there is no start and no finish. Just a constant stream of learning and ‘doing’. This way of conducting your reality makes ‘failure’ an obsolete concept because there is only space for growth through your own self-acceptance and self-critique. Allowing yourself to make mistakes so you can evolve.

People process things and grasp concepts differently. That is why it is not important to start at the beginning of the design sequence. In life, there are no beginnings and ends, only a continuous stream of events and many revolutions of life cycles. You will gravitate towards whichever part of the concept appeals to your desire the most. This will help in keeping you interested as well as keeping you on track to approach sections of the concept that appear silly or unnecessary at first glance. Some of the sections may seem confronting and off topic. Remember, to design a home for yourself you must learn who it is that you actually are.

Let’s kick in to it then!

The order of the journey begins with self purpose and slowly makes its way down to practicalities and technique. In this article, I will only briefly discuss each section. Mainly because they are each very in depth and would require more writing space than a single article on a website. Also, by planting the seed I hope for you to take this away and explore it yourself. Life itself is life’s greatest teacher.


living home design concept - 1. what is your ultimate goal in life?

1. what is your ultimate goal in life?

This question is a literal as it sounds. A little more literal than you may think. When I ask my students this question, usually they answer with something along the lines of “a house in the hills where I can do my art” or “To travel overseas and help build homes in war torn countries” or “Start a community with a group of like minded people”. To this I usually ask “why?”

What is it about our main purpose in life that makes us gravitate towards these things? Is it the dissatisfaction we have with our current life circumstances? Perhaps its a longing we have for change? Is it our fantasies, taking us on adventures that we have never journeyed on? Promising us that all can be wonderful in life and that there has to be more to this thing. It couldnt be all about waking up in a box, to travel in a box, to work in a box and then to finally be buried in a box!

Why? I ask you to ask yourself that question. Find yourself somewhere peaceful. Somewhere where you can comfortably be yourself and ponder things without interruption or distraction. Turn your phone off. I would like you to narrow what you want out of life down to one word.

Forget about houses and homes for a moment. Forget about missions and anything else that is tangible. What is it within your heart that you long for? What is that core foundation that will bring you ‘the dream’? It is important to transcend fear and reaction based desire. Reaction based desire is a desire that comes as a result of consequence. You could be working a job you hate, be in a passionless swamp of a relationship or you could be literally owned by a mortgage. Dont let these things interrupt your search for this word. Focus on what makes you feel whole and what you want to contribute to the world. You know the one. That moment when everything makes sense, when you dont need to ask questions, when you can just ‘be’. Once you think of those moments, again ask yourself, why?

Continue this process until you get down to one word, one feeling, one purpose. That one word is going to be the basis and foundation of this entire design process.

Dont be to hard on yourself. This word can change in time, as well as other aspects of the design process. That is why it is important to do at least three entire revolutions of the design. Each time you go round, the end goal will become more tangible until the stage that you have that lightbulb moment when you feel like you have arrived. After that time, it will still be beneficial to do the process again, whenever you feel like you need to check in with yourself to reaffirm and clarify things.


the living home design concept - 2. from where do you draw your inspiration?

2. from where do you draw your inspiration

Once you have discovered your word and you have placed it at the top of the tree, you are then ready to explore what it is that gets you there. What is it that brings you to that point? Inspiration encourages the search for wisdom which encourages growth and prosperity. This is why drawing on inspiration is so important when it comes to design. Inspiration becomes you.

Dont give yourself any limitations when it comes to this step. There are absolutely no wrong answers. Some people find themselves through doing rituals and activities that seem unthinkable to others. You are not here to live out their expectations. You are hear to enact your life’s purpose… for now.

I’ve had students answer this question with anything from meditation and rock climbing, through to drinking whiskey and masturbation. This is your journey and only you can discover yourself. Only you know if what you are doing, serves you and aides in your personal growth in life. Think to yourself, “is this activity I am doing, helping me achieve my word?”

Because that is the aim of this whole process, to create a life that will most effectively and harmoniously bring you and your word together as one. The inspiration and wisdom is what you want to feature regularly in your life so it will encourage shorter intervals of evolution. When your soul is at prosperity, then only prosperity can prevail.


sun ray kelleys house. living home design concept - 3. your home as a conduit of wisdom and inspiration

3. your home as a conduit of wisdom and inspiration

At this stage you have discovered your list of inspirations for wisdom. Now the adventurer turns to explore how the home can act as a tool for those inspirations and wisdom. How your home can help you act out your will.

For example, if you draw your inspiration from nature, perhaps you could find land that has a creek which you cut a track alongside which leads to an onsite, free roaming wildlife area? Or if you are into socialising with your friends, you could include an entertaining area that is conducive to your style of entertaining. Suppose you draw your inspiration from travel? You may then want to build something simple, low maintenance and comfortable for times that you are home, in between travelling.

It is easy to get swept away with elaborate design systems and certain aesthetics. Humans like to romance ideologies and live vicariously through other realities that draw them further away from their own truth. Visit your word again, visit your inspiration again. Now you are ready to start jotting down features that will help materialise those truths.

Design in what you need to get to those truths, however ridiculous it may seem. You will find a way to make it happen. If you cant make it happen for whatever reason, come up with a temporary solution and leave room to expand closer to what you originally wanted as well as making room for your own evolution. Dont ever think that you are not worthy of being complete. Nothing is too silly if it means that it will facilitate bringing you closer to your word. After all, this is your life we are talking about.


old aboriginal man living home design concept - 4. ancient knowledge

4. ancient knowledge

Now we are well on the way to discovering our purpose and the direction we want to take this life project. It is now time to take a look back. To know where we are headed, we must first find out where we have been.

Before the discovery of oil, people designed homes, not only to suit the conditions they were living in, but to also truly serve their purpose and daily activities in life. They could only build homes out of what was readily available because that is all they had access to. The great thing about that is, what they had access to, just so happened to be the perfect materials to build with. The planet has spent four and a half billion years (roughly) perfecting and maturing the enormous scope of renewable materials available to us. Talk about an extensive research and development process! We dont need to look anywhere else, it’s all here.

In the semi arid regions they dont have a lot of timber, but they do have a lot of clay. This is perfect for buildings that require a lot of thermal mass to shield folks from the extremes in weather. The tropics usually have a lot of timber which is great for lifting buildings out of the wet ground, avoiding issues like mould by allowing sufficient ventilation. The modern world has allowed us to build a separation between us and this ancient knowledge, which has been inherently inside all of us throughout all of human existence. We dont need to connect with the cycles of nature anymore. We have split system air-conditioning units and a deceivingly limited fossil fuel supply that provides us with power on tap. It is time to break the cycle of dependence. In this step, we research cultures that haven’t engaged with the separation and learn from their stories and practices, handed down.

Just as we look at materials available in the local area, we do the same with ancient knowledge. In home design, ancient knowledge is always bioregion specific.

This is a great opportunity for you to start connecting with your local community. Start by seeking out the old folk of the area. Ask them how they used to build and what they used to do with their life. It will make for great conversations and even long lasting friendships. You always want the old people on your side. They are usually the most active members in your community. They vote, lobby, rally together for things they believe in and they are usually passionate about some sort of injustice. Besides, they are usually way more interesting than young people who still have something to prove! Once you start to get an idea of what their lifestyle was like and how their home helped serve them through it, you can start materialising your journey and how you can best serve your own desired lifestyle.

Remember, the old folk usually know everyone in town, young and old! These people are going to be your lifesaver further down the line when you are needing materials, council connections, earth moving guys, etc. There are just some things that the internet can not provide you with. Local trust and connections are two of them.

Search out descendants of the local, ancient tribes in your area as well. This is where you are going to get the real knowledge. These folks have stories and techniques that have lasted from well before your ancestors came and stripped the land bare. Before oil and before international commerce. These guys had only what was available to them. They made it their business to discover every plant and its properties, every animal and its behavioural patterns, how to build to suit the conditions and where to find the medicine. If you thought getting the old folks on your good side was important, these guys have the key to the lock of your local knowledge.

It may be some time before people open up to you, but it will be worth it. You will get more of an idea from their perspective what your country’s history is really all about. This is more than just getting inspiration for the house you want to build. This is about uniting humanity. Valuing the people who were there way before your ancestors even dreamed of setting foot on the country. Valuing the knowledge they have held onto and pass down and valuing the community they are today. This is one step closer to a brighter world.


living home design concept - 5. society/governments affect and role in your design

5. society/government’s affect and role in your design

Now it is time to discuss the other people who are going to be involved in your design. It is very important to realise first off before we even start, these people are not the boogy man or any other version of the boogy man. It is true. They may seem to come across as vampires and ghouls, sent by a red scaly beast to make your journey one of trying times, anguish and paper work. They may not understand your quest for ‘your word’. They may appear that they are doing everything in their power to stop you dead in your tracks so you can be an obedient worker blob, on the production line of apathy, feeding the scaly goat gold nuggets and fortified wine that he will never drink. But nothing could be further from the truth.

These people are your neighbours, your friends, foes, cousins and daughters even. They go to the toilet and they also from time to time have nightmares that wake them up in a cold sweat. They are human. Human with all of their beautiful imperfections and quirks. As soon as you treat a human the same as you would treat an ATM machine, you are going to be met with the same, cold reflection of yourself.

In saying that, the attempt has been made to turn people into the machines they dread to deal with. So, when approaching people in these positions, be well informed, have open eyes and an open heart. You can only pretend that an open heart is not in the room for so long, until you are immersed in it!

There are a few ways of approaching this. People have engaged council and government from the start and endured the long journey that is their design and building process. It is the way we are trained to do it however it is very costly and time consuming. Other people have found aspects of council bylaws that allow them to have minimal contact. They have gone through building certifiers, built non-habited farm sheds as well as a number of other methods. Other people have flat out just built and ignore council bylaws all together. They risk getting caught and facing major fines as well as other possible outcomes. Others have approached the situation using common law which is another article all to itself!

I am not going to tell you which way you need to go. That is something you need to decide on your own. Whichever way you do go, there are some things you should consider. Firstly, know your laws and know your rights! Before you even approach the subject, do your research. Every council has building requirements and standards posted on their websites. They are very boring reads but are worth the time in doing so. Finding out what you need to comply with will help speed the project along. Find out what limitations they have and work that into your design. You will save them from doing their own work. This will help things run smoothly. If you approach them with a wacky concept that they don’t understand, you will be stuck on the council trail for a long time. Feed them something that they can understand and perhaps it will be easier for you to push through some new ideas and concepts. Rural councils can be open to suggestion if you present them well researched information, backed by precedent and science. They are usually more than happy for you to present this information to them in a ‘council friendly’ format.

Council arent the only ‘outside’ forces you are dealing with here. There are also your neighbours and the people within your community. If your project is going to challenge someone’s understanding or just down right offend them, then they may try and make your life difficult. After all, most council audits happen as a result of a member of the community calling up and complaining. Neighbours dobbing in neighbours makes the audits go round!

However, this is another opportunity to engage, include and befriend your community. Try and take the mystery and mystique out of what you are doing. Help people to digest your weird desires, if they actually want to hear it. People love being in on a secret or being at the forefront of a ‘new concept’ or technology. Heck, they may even have resources that may benefit your journey. All you have to do is engage them. Be the fool! Take that leap into the unknown and find out what awaits you.

While doing all this, it is good to remember that you need to find a healthy balance between your good will, sense of community and your own personal boundaries. They are very important. People will respect them if you are clear and direct in your communication. Communication usually is the deciding factor in successful and troublesome communities. Again, it is too large of a subject to delve into through this article but it is well worth your consideration.

This step will take some time and it may bring up personal challenges that will make the journey seem helpless and not worth the effort. I ask you to please trust yourself and trust your journey. No bush track to prosperity is ever a straight and tidy road. There are twists, turns, bumps and jumping ants that will engage you along the way. The obstacles required added effort but they also form and shape your story.


man in nature living home design concept - 6. being your own myth

6. being your own myth

This is the section of the process that connects the knowledge gathering you have done with the design aspect of the journey. This is where the adventurer takes all of the information and data that has been collected and make a statement of who you are and what you represent.

Historically in life, people have turned to religion and other mythologies for comfort and a sense of purpose in life. This has lead to the strengthening and solidarity of some villages as well as the separation and destruction of others. People are very passionate about their beliefs and mythologies. Folks have lived by them and folks have killed to supposedly defend them. These mythologies live deep within their heart. So this could be explained as the ‘heart’ of this particular journey. It is where your ego processes all of the different influences and tries to make sense of them.

Your life has been a training ground of sorts which has lead you to this place, right now. All of the influences, good and bad decisions, fights, love making, they have all been the building blocks that make up who it is that you are. How you have interacted, engaged and proceeded with all these events is you the sculptor, taking those building blocks and turning them into the beautiful work of art that you are.

There is no right and wrong here, only truth. You do not have to subscribe to any one belief system in its entirety. There was never a universal meeting of the minds that resulted with that as an outcome. As you travel through life, you pick up a piece of wisdom somewhere unexpected that sticks with you, you may read something that hits your heart in a massive way or you may even just discover something cool while meditating. This is what we call ‘becoming your own myth’ or ‘being nature’. Only you have to answer to your own myth! Nature doesnt answer to any dogma. Nature grows. Nature is the true embodiment of prosperity. Even during earthquakes and mammoth bush-fires, nature is still the true embodiment of prosperity. And guess what? You and everything else on this planet, is nature.

People can allow themselves to become victimised and shamed for their weird individual mythologies. I say to you that there is nothing to be ashamed of. Wave your freak flag high! The longer you suppress your will, the longer your heart will be kept in the darkness. Some of us stay there for our entire lives, in hope of satisfying some idealised version of ourselves. As soon as you are true to your own mythology, will you begin to attract the right energies to yourself and your project. There can be no other way.

When approaching home design, being true to ourselves is paramount. However strange and peculiar you seem to others, it is your life in which you are building. It reminds me of a story I once heard.

There was once two trees who lived in a forest. One was straight and one was crooked. The straight tree turned to the crooked tree and exclaimed “look at what a weird and ugly tree you are! Why can you grow straight and tall like me?!” The tree did not respond. When the lumberjacks entered the forest, the foreman yelled out “Cut down all them tall, straight trees!” The lumberjacks went ahead and cut down all the tall straight trees in the forest and left all the crooked weird ones. From then on, all the crooked, bent, weirdo trees grew to be big and strong. They are all still there today.

This is not to say that straight trees are unknowingly inferior. Quite the contrary. Their mythology is just as real and passionate as yours. This is about you having faith in your own myth. If we allow each other to live our mythologies out in peace, then all we can do is experience the outcomes and take it from there.

As soon as we can realise that we are united in our diversity, only then can we hope for anything remotely close to what we describe as ‘peace on Earth’.


dream catcher living home design concept - 7. dream big!

7. dream big!

This is where the fun starts. This is where we pass through the gateway of knowledge and inspiration, then journey into the tangible world of design! YEEE HAWW!!

This is usually where people begin the journey of designing their own home, and that is fine. If you do start here, just remember to go through all the steps consecutively at least three times. It will be of benefit to you one way or another.

Having learned everything in the previous steps, start drawing out your dream home/land/life. Try to let the pencil do the thinking. By this I mean draw with pure emotion. Dont think about it too much. When you are feeling in the moment, just start drawing away. It doesnt even have to make sense. It does not have to be coherent. All it has to be is true and honest self expression.

Thinking back to step 3 – what do you want to design into your home that will be a conduit to your inspiration and your gained wisdom? What inspiration did you draw from the tribal elder who you went to visit? What did the old fella tell you that struck a chord within yourself? Council considerations? How about your myth? What does your myth require of you? All of these elements and more should lay subtly in the back of your consciousness while you draw away like a lunatic with a vision.

When you settle down and observe what you have come up with, you may begin to discover something that you have missed or something that you never even thought was there. You will be surprised what you come up with when you allow the subconscious to rule the pencil.

Make sure you do this over and over again. It is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is really fun! It is a good idea to have fun with this because your intentions materialise into your physical reality. Secondly, your design will evolve and evolve every time you approach it. The more you do it, the more fine tuned, precise and closer to ‘your word’ the design will become.

Dr Hunter Patch Adams tried with his colleagues to open a community based hospital in the 70s. They believed that health care should be free and that the key to well-being is happiness, community, wonder, love and other great words. They wanted to be the first silly hospital that focussed on real health care rather than cures. They figured that a project with such integrity would be funded and built within 10 years. Nearly 40 years later they are finally building their hospital. My point and why I have brought this up is, imagine how amazing your design would be if you had 40 years of trial and error. 40 years of going through this process of growth and prosperity. You would come up with one hell of a hospital!

Even if you are waiting for permits, land titles to process, money to come through, whatever it is that you are waiting for, you can always draw up your dreams. So, what are you waiting for? Get drawing!


lord of the rings gollum living home design concept - 8 being precious - free will, mistakes/growth shapes your story

8. Being precious – free will, mistakes/growth shapes your story

This is quite an involved and intricate design process with a lot of ‘ins and outs’ and ‘what have you’s’. When you embark on such a quest, it is important that you aren’t too hard on yourself. It can be easy to become precious about the message you are trying to convey or the lifestyle you are trying to lead. The adventurer must ask him/herself “where do I make sacrifices so I can turn this dream into my physical reality?”

At this point, you are looking at your drawing thus far and you are trying to work out what to make of it. Is this realistic? Do I need more rooms? Could this drawing of my dead aunt really be a house? It is this process that we like to call ‘cleaning out the closet’.

Its a process of elimination. At this point, it is important to know what to be precious about and what to send packing! Revisit your ‘word’ and all the other steps. Revisit them in detail. When you get all the way back down to your drawing, it will become clear what you need to keep and what has worked its way in from previously learned programs and dogmas.

You may have been dreaming of your home, your entire life. Through that time, you may have based your dream home on fears, expectations and unrealistic ideologies. It is very hard to shake these pre-learned features. Which is another reason why we encourage people to do this entire process at least three times.

By releasing our ideological freeloaders, we allow the future and our truth to present itself.

Society has reached a point where mistakes and mishaps are demonised and classed as failures. There is this learned fear that surrounds failure. It has a stigma attached to it that keeps folks from learning and transcending old patterns. It is at times, through our failures that our creativity approaches the situation and breakthrough is the result.

We must allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes. Our mistakes can sometimes be the most interesting thing about us! When you are with a group of people and someone is talking about their successes with a pushed out chest and a glint in their eye, it can be inspiring. However, if you are listening to a guy tell a story about how he had a big night out on the town, got drunk and rang up his boss to give him a piece of his mind, which resulted in him losing his job in the most embarrassing way possible, he has just become the most hilarious guy at the party! People cringe at him, they feel sorry for him, they laugh their ass off and the story lingers for parties to come. His mistake and how he dealt with it, shapes his story.

When looking at your drawing, try to allow for mistakes you may make in design and for change in direction. For example, if today you want to live a simple life on your own, you only want to build a small shack for yourself. Design it so you can expand it if things change down the track. You could fall in love, have children, develop claustrophobia, you never know what could happen! You dont want to be 10 years in and have to do a bunch of reverse engineering to get it right. The future is unpredictable to a certain extent so dont lock your self in too tightly.

Before this step, we used our emotions to access our subconscious through drawing. In this step we are using our intellect to analyse our findings and to proceed from there. This can be done over and over until you are satisfied that you have reached a place of truth. You will feel that your drawing is the true embodiment of where you are headed.


salvador dali melting clocks living home design concept - 9. taking time and understanding signs

9. taking time and understanding signs

This step follows on from the last, in the sense that once you have analysed the drawing and cast away the elements that you dont need, you are then ready to make the call of whether or not it is time to proceed to the nuts n bolts of the design process.

When you allow time to slow down your decision making process, you allow room for concepts, features and functionality to blossom. This happens by slowing down the need of urgency. Nothing is more important than your focus, at this point. Slowing down your thought process can help you access areas of your mind which are closed of by the thick cloak of anxiety. This cloak will kill the execution of your design. Anxious expectation makes people only see the life guard at the shore line while blocking out the view of the sharks and the stonefish on the journey there.

It can all seem very exciting at this point. Especially after the long and gruelling introspective journey that you have taken part in. This is the time to be strong, focussed and prepared. This is the gateway into the physical realm of the design process.

There are a number of ways you can achieve the level headedness you require to slow down the mind. There are practices such as meditation, being present, yoga and other such activities which will help. Heck, you may even just want to walk away from it all for a while. Just to gain some perspective. You will work out what it is you need to do to help you with this step. A good idea would be to revisit step 2 and go to that place or do that thing that helps you draw your inspiration and wisdom.

Understand also, when to say when. There is a fine line between slowing down the process and procrastinating. If you begin to feel stagnant or lost, revisit the design or revisit step 2 for some clarity.

It’s about transcending that state of fear, being the fool and taking that leap once again into the unknown. Fear is always going to hold up progress and encourage misguided outcomes. Be the fool again at this point. Look back onto your entire journey and say to yourself, am I ready to dive into the unknown now? Am I ready to put my trust completely and utterly into the universe and everything it has to throw at me? Am I ready to be the dream that fuelled this journey to begin with?

Once the answer comes back as ‘hell yes!’ then you are ready to proceed onto the living home.


hut in the tropics living home design concept

10. the living home

Here we are, back on solid ground. We have searched, discovered, climbed the mountain and soaked in the view. Your drawing up until this point is a true representation of who you are and what direction you want to steer your life towards. It lives and breathes all the steps of this entire process thus far. What we are going to do now is take your drawing and turn it into something that can be fully functional within reality, here on Earth. Turn all this searching and dreaming into a healthy, happy homestead. Something worthy of your progress in life and your prosperity.

Firstly, before we even get to the physical building’s attributes, lets talk about where you are building and how that is going to affect your design. There are a few deciding factors when it comes to material choice. For example, if you are building in a high rainfall area, you wouldn’t use exterior wall materials that lend themselves to water deterioration. Or if you were building in the desert, you would want to make sure that you had sufficient thermal mass to shelter you from the harsh, varying temperatures and wind conditions. So, here is a question you can ask yourself:

What qualities are you working with?

Here are a list of some of the broad terrestrial eco regions and their attributes. These systems were classified by the legends at WWF. Research them and find out which one applies most to your situation:

  • Tropical and subtropical wet, broad leaf forestsThese forests are generally found in large, discontinuous patches on the equatorial belt and between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Characterised by low variability in annual temperature and high levels of rainfall (>200 centimetres annually) these forests’ composition is dominated by semi-evergreen and evergreen deciduous tree species. They can be high in humidity, very little to no frost (depending on situation) and are usually home to termites.

  • Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests – Temperate forests experience a wide range of variability in temperature and precipitation. In regions where rainfall is broadly distributed throughout the year, deciduous trees mix with species of evergreens. Species such as Eucalyptus and Acacia represent the composition of the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests in Australia.

  • Tropical and subtropical grassland, savannas and shrublands – Large expanses of land in the tropics do not receive enough rainfall to support extensive tree cover. The tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands are characterised by rainfall levels between 90-150 centimetres per year. This means limited access to timbers, a lot of subsoils (clays etc), limited access to water and top soils.

  • Temperate grasslands, savannas and shrublands – This ecoregion differs largely from tropical grasslands due to the cooler and wider annual temperatures as well as the types of species found here. Generally speaking, these regions are devoid of trees, except for riparian or gallery forests associated with streams and rivers. Unfortunately, most of this ecoregion has been converted to sheep rearing and wheat cropping and only small fragments of the original eucalypt vegetation remains. Here you can expect large variances in temperature, little rain and access to timbers as well as sub soils.

  • Mediterranean forests, woodlands and shrubsMediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub ecoregions are characterized by hot and dry summers, while winters tend to be cool and moist. Most precipitation arrives during these months. These areas are a high fire risk. When building here, make sure you take precautions. That includes; easy exit strategies, fire safe materials, large clearing around your house, etc.

  • Deserts and xeric shrublands – This ecoregion varies greatly in the amount of annual rainfall they receive; generally, however, evaporation exceeds rainfall in these ecoregions. Temperature extremes are a characteristic of most deserts. Searing daytime heat gives way to cold nights because there is no insulation provided by humidity and cloud cover. Growing food is challenging in these areas, there are usually very large clay deposits, water events usually happen rarely but when they do, they can be large events so make sure you have sufficient water storage.

  • Tundra – The tundra is a treeless polar desert found in the high latitudes in the polar regions such as the sub-Antarctic islands. Structurally, the tundra is a treeless expanse that supports communities of sedges and heaths as well as dwarf shrubs. Most precipitation falls in the form of snow during the winter while soils tend to be acidic and saturated with water where not frozen. This may call for creative water harvesting methods such as melting roof snow so water can be harvested before evaporation.

Find the qualities of the region that best describes your situation. Something to remember as well is that there are eco regions within eco regions. It would be a great idea to spend some time on your desired site and observe where the water flows after a rain event, what type of soils you have, if there has been previous contamination, where are the high wind load areas, where does the sun rise in winter and summer along with a host of other variable which will affect you. It is recommended that you spend a full four seasons either camping or even regularly visiting the site so you can see what changes within the seasons and how weather events effect its functionality. This can be hard to accomplish if you are working full time or live far away from the site. Do the best you can within your capabilities.

While you are observing, document your findings by taking notes, photos and videos even. This will help you focus your attention and it will also prevent information from being distorted by memory.

There are three main challenges when approaching your physical design. They are; natural, societal and the self. Lets have a little look at them:

Natural – This will require a combination of your eco system research and your site observation. You are going to want to make sure that you have sufficient access to your site. Access is important not only for yourself but for material delivery, guests and emergencies. If you have to pass a flood zone to get to your house, there are going to be issues. Speaking of flood zones, dont build in one! People can fall into the trap of building in a wet spot and then are subject to all the difficulties that come from trying to deter the natural flow of your land.

Remember that the land you are building on has been there a lot longer than you have. Try not to disrupt the natural order of things. The natural systems of your site are already in place. To try and change the natural systems of your site will prove to be a very costly and detrimental exercise. You will spend a lot of money engineering it and you will more than likely have to keep throwing money at it for maintenance and repairs. Not to mention the biodiversity that will be affected by your decision. Never forget, mother nature will always rule!

Society – We discussed this before in step 5. Government and neighbours are going to affect the systems that you put in your home design. It seems silly, because it is YOUR home. But it is true. Depending on where you build, there will be different requirements for you to get a permit for your home. Research it and go from there. If you are taking the legitimate route, you may need to design your home to government standards and guidelines. You look at their limitations and then you see how you can make it work for what you are trying to achieve.

You – The biggest challenge can be the limits to your own imagination and dogma. This is why we have great processes like ‘the living home’ design concept to help you with this obstacle.

picture of first earthship built in australia. hempcrete roof, tyre walls, bottle walls, can walls, clay plaster

Living Home – Agnes Waters

 

Now it is time to look at how the living house functions. It is very similar to the human body which is made up of integrated biological systems. It could be said that the human body is a collection of these integrated biological systems that require the human spirit to function. The all collaborate to materials the wonders of the human form. This is exactly how we look at the home as a living entity.

The living home is made up of 7 integrated living systems. They all require each other as well as interact with each other. They all support each other and provide a continuous flow of functionality and beauty. The 7 integrated systems are:

  • Building materials

  • Thermal dynamics

  • Power supply

  • Water source and treatment

  • Sewerage treatment

  • Food supply

  • Human interaction

I will now discuss each system and how they integrate into one another.

Building materials – When building the living home, we build it out of natural and recycled materials. The natural world, over 4 billion years has developed extremely versatile, durable, long-lasting materials within the evolution of the planets growth. This has shaped and proliferated Earth into the limitless biodiversity it is. Talk about an extended period of R&D! The beauty about specific bioregion’s natural ‘material’ development, is that it is site and climate specific. The materials available to us onsite are usually the perfect materials needed to build with, in that area.

cob building hand holding cob natural building

cob!

Recycled materials has a completely different appeal in this building method. Domestic and commercial waste is something that has been turned into a huge issue for creatures on planet earth. Large scale infrastructure has been established to process and often dispose of waste. We are the only organism on the planet that doesnt produce waste that easily breaks down and forms new life. This leaves us with a growing environmental liability which needs addressing.

The byproducts of society serve as a representation of the footprint we leave as we go about life on Earth. It only makes sense to engage with these byproducts when approaching building. Buildings by nature are long lasting and if done correctly can out-last human life expectancy. A great way to hide trash that doesn’t break down for a long time.

Outside of the environmental benefits of using recycled materials, all of the recyclables you use are usually found from your local area. This encourages you to get to know people in your local community, especially if you have just moved to the area you are building your home in. The guy that works at the local dump will become your best friend, the lady at the pub will provide your bottles, the baker for your buckets, the list goes on.

picture of a feature bottle wall

bottle wall

 

The living home stands as a testament to the history and relationship between the natural world and the byproducts of human civilisation. It has taken four and a half billion years to develop natural materials and around two hundred years for humans to develop and pile up garbage. This design concept allows both worlds to acknowledge each other through a monumental expression of creativity and functionality.

You will need to do your research to discover what materials are going to be suitable for your site. Water, temperature, wind load, fire risk, humidity, frost and termites are usually deciding factors. Here is a list of some natural materials and their properties to help you with your decision:

Superadobe/Earthbags

This is essentially rammed earth in poly-woven bags joined with barbed-wire and gravity. This method was made popular by Iranian architect, Nader Khalili. You can use either single bags or bags on a roll. You can make whatever shape you desire as long as the load distribution is done correctly. This means buttresses if you are making a vertical roundhouse greater than 10 metres in diameter, using levels, chains and other tools to make sure when the building is complete it has a near flawless geometrical form.

Thermal storage – excellent.

Insulation – poor.

Load bearing – excellent.

Breathability – medium.

Skill required – minimal.

Regenerative material – medium.

laying barbed wire in between layers on the earthbag superadobe house

superadobe

 

 

Cob/adobe

An ancient building method used all over the world. The basis for a cob/adobe building is a mortar, brick or ball made of clay, sand, straw and water. Clay is pleasant to work with, it is breathable, a great source of thermal mass and can be either load bearing or an effective fill for a timber framed building. When building with cob, you need to be aware of what bioregion you are building in. cob doesnt last very long when it is exposed to the elements. That is why you will usually see cob buildings with large eaves and lime based exteriors in high rainfall areas.

Thermal storage – excellent.

Insulation – low.

Load bearing – excellent (if designed and built correctly)

Breathability – excellent.

Skill required – medium.

Regenerative material – excellent.

stomping cob for natural plaster

stomping cob

 

Stone

Another ancient practice that has been done by many different cultures from all over the world. Stone structures are very solid and load bearing. It is a practice that requires a lot of harvesting, sorting, arranging and strategy. It is a technique that is for the patient variety of human. It is very time consuming, heavy labour and quite technical. However if you can deal with all of those variables, you end up with a beautiful home that is extremely load bearing with large amounts of thermal storage.

Thermal Storage – excellent.

Insulation – poor.

Load bearing – excellent.

Breathability – medium.

Skill required – high.

Regenerative material – excellent.

picture of pretty stone cottage in the woods

stone house

 

Strawbale

Strawbale building became popular in America around the 1850s due to having an abundance of agriculture byproduct (wheat, rye, oat straw). There are two main styles of strawbale structures and they are load bearing and timber frame. Load bearing being a structure where the roof is supported entirely by the strawbale walls and whichever footing is used. Strawbales are used as fill in the timber framed design. They are very high in insulation due to the air pockets in between the matrix of straw. Strawbales homes are very quick to construct due to the size of the bales, how light they are to work with and the simplicity of it. You need to be careful of keeping the bales dry. If the home isnt sufficiently sheltered from water damage, you risk the bales turning to compost and the home collapsing.

Thermal storage – medium.

Insulation – excellent.

Load bearing – excellent.

Breathability – excellent.

Skill required – minimal.

Regenerative material – excellent.

load bearing double story strawbale straw bale house

straw bale house

 

 

This is a very brief description of this step in design. Choosing materials and designing your physical home can be quite technical. It requires a lot of research and observation. If you do not feel confident doing it yourself, please seek advice from a professional. It is all about executing your design efficiently with a high level of safety.

Thermal Dynamics

When choosing your building materials, they must be chosen so they can be affective tools to achieve the highest thermal consistency. The aim is to keep your home at a desired level of comfort, throughout all the seasons.

Over 46% of residential power usage in Australia consumed in heating and cooling space. The reason for this is because homes are not being designed with real comfort in mind. All the elements required for real comfort already exist. Elements such as sun, wind, rain, aspect, trees, etc. lets go through a few examples of how you can keep your home at a consistent temperature without the aid of fossil fuel.

passive solar house orientation for summer and winter sun in southern hemisphere

orientaion

Orientation

Where your home is facing is very important in the regulation of temperature. The front face of your home is going to vary depending on what part of the world you live in. You want to design your home so your living areas gain access to the morning winter sun. this is optimum time for thermal storage because the sun at this point is soft and easy for the human body to handle. The soft winter sun stores its energy in the walls and floor so when the temperature drops at night, the energy stored can release into the living area, creating consistency in temperature. The energy stores incrementally. A little energy in stored and then a little energy is taken for use. Eventually you will have more energy stored in your walls and floor than is required for use. This is how you achieve consistent temperatures in the home.

Another benefit of allowing the soft morning sun inside your house and using the rest of the space as thermal storage, is that you avoid the harsh summer sun. This will be a big contributor in your home staying cool in summer. There are sun path calculators that are free on the internet – http://www.sunposition.info/. These are good for quickly finding where to orientate your house although it is recommended to actually spend a full season in the space you are going to build so you can feel it and for a relationship with the space.

diagram of thermal mass and insulation

thermal mass and insulation

Thermal mass and insulation

These are the two main facilitators of energy storage and distribution. Once your home is orientated and built to engage with solar influence, you are then ready to work with the energy you are harvesting. The main difference between thermal mass and insulation is as follows:

  • Thermal mass is somewhat of a battery bank for energy storage. Particles are compressed in form so the energy can pass easily through and store within the mass. Some examples of materials that have good thermal qualities are; rammed earth, stone, brick and water.

  • Thermal insulation restricts that energy flow. So, once you have stored the energy, insulation helps hold the temperature at a consistent level. This is measured in R-value which stands for thermal resistance. It does this by using materials that have air pockets. Materials such as; straw bale, hemp, sheep wool, and wood fibres just to name a few.

Cooling

There are many different ways of approaching cooling. This is also subject to what eco region you are building in.

In semi arid regions, some houses have been known to use a convection air tube. The air tube uses the ground temperature to cool the air which is drawn through the pipe. There is then a convection skylight which is placed at the point of the building which draws the most heat. When the skylight and air tube are opened, the heat from the skylight draws the cool air through the tube, thus cooling down the living areas of the house. This method is very effective unless you are building in places of high humidity. The humidity acts as a barrier for the flow of air in this instance. See diagram for visuals of the air tube.

cooling convection system

cooling tube

In areas of higher humidity, you will want to focus more on ventilation. Ventilation will not only cool your home when required, it will assist in keeping your home mould free. Mould occurs when moisture gathers and isnt moved on. Ventilation and using breathable materials helps move moisture on.

different cross ventilation

cross ventilation

When designing ventilation into your home, the delicate dance between cooling and heating is something that needs to be perfected. Where you are allowing air in, you are also losing some stored thermal mass. Installing smaller windows on walls that are dedicated to storing mass is a good solution. Windows can be looked at as energy portals in this sense. We put large windows on the side of the house where the winter sun enters and we put small windows anywhere else. This will also prevent the harsh summer sun from entering the home. Curtains can also be used to adjust the temperature by blocking out the sun on different sides of the house.

There are so many different innovations when it comes to cooling your home. Do your research and find one that best suits your needs.

Power supply

Now that you have chosen the right materials and designed your home so it heats and cools itself passively, you have cut out a major chunk of your energy requirements. You are going to need a much smaller system as a result.

diagram of off grid solar system

off grid solar system

When designing your power system, make a list of the appliances you use in daily life activities. This will be an eye opening experience. This will tell you almost exactly what your residential footprint actually is. Your list should be comprised of all the appliances that require power, their power load and how long their motors run for daily. That is the key. A fridge for example doesnt run all day and all night. The motor of the fridge cools the unit until it reaches the correct temperature and then it turns off until the temperature rises enough for the motor to turn on again. A fridge only runs for roughly 4 hours a day. When your television is on stand-by, it may seem as though it is off but it is still drawing a small amount of energy.Once you have worked out how much energy you will need, it is then time to find out how you are going to harvest your power?

This is going to depend solely on your weather conditions, your land opportunities and your own creativity and intuition. Here are the three main power sources used for running an off grid home:

  1. Solar

  2. Wind powerhouse

  3. Hydro-electric

Solar is by far the most commonly used power source. It is done by heated up the solar cells on a solar panel. The energy is then usually stored in batteries to then be used as the house hold need to. This technology requires solar access. Areas with minimal tree coverage and long periods of clear days are ideal. You can still use solar in areas that have trees and cloud cover but the systems will usually need to be bigger and more expensive to compensate.

Wind power is reserved for areas that have a high wind loading. The wind spins a turbine which charges batteries to be used for domestic or commercial use. Hydro-electric is very similar in that it requires a constant running stream of water to spin the wheel that charges the battery to be used in the home.

diagram of pelton wheel water generator

pelton wheel

Again this is a very large subject that could be covered in its own book. There are so many different types of power sources. Everything from using a bio-digester to Tesla technology. You need to observe, research and discover what would be right for you.

Water source and treatment

Water is the foundation of all life on Earth. Without it, life as we know it would perish. With it, anything is possible. Water hydrates, breaks things down, helps things grow, cools things down, helps distribute heat evenly. It can travel against atmospheres of pressure, exist as a gas, a solid and a liquid as well as a universe of other known and unknown phenomena.

Kettle-Creek-Gorge-05371

Something for you to ponder – the planet has been here for roughly four and a half billion years and water recycles itself over and over again. The water we drink and wash in today is that very same water that was here from the beginning.

The significance of this is profound. It has been found from studies recently conducted by scientists such as Dr. Jacques Benveniste that water has a cellular memory. What that means is that water stores information just like a computer of sorts. You can find more in-depth information out there but basically the guts of it is this – they took a body of water that was completely diluted, they then sound treated the water with the frequency from a non-diluted body of water. They then tested the diluted water after the treatment and found trace elements of minerals present in the sound sampled water!

Going back now to what we were talking about. The water that exists now is the same water that has existed since the beginning. Knowing what we think we know now about water, it could be said that water contains the history and information of every event that has ever happened on this planet. That is a lot of information to ingest from one cup of water! This may explain the phenomena of having a hunch or a familiar feeling perhaps?

What does this have to do with home design? Well that is completely up to you. All I ask is that you keep this in mind when designing your systems and how you incorporate water into your daily life. Treat water as close as you can to how it naturally exists and behaves in its natural habitat. Avoid right angles. Water doesnt travel in right angles. Water likes to be stimulated like it does when it passes through rocks and the curvature of creeks and streams. Try to mimic that as close as you can with your home design.

Lets now talk about the physical water systems in the home. Water is at the foundation of the integrated systems of the living home concept. To communicate this effectively I am going to discuss the ‘water trail’

To begin with, we need to look at where we are accessing our water from. Go out to the site where you are to build and stand there. Look around at the surrounding land and sky. Seek out all of the potential water access points. The first obvious one would be rainfall and then perhaps a creek or a spring. Look into what the local rainfall of the area is. This will determine how much storage you will need to accommodate how water you will use.

Daily water usage per person can range depending on circumstance. In coastal areas people can use as little as 100 litres per day, where across inland dry areas, people can use up to 800 litres daily. Dry areas require more water for food gardens and other vegetation as rainfall is scarce. For this reason, you may want to think about planting drought friendly plants when you are landscaping or rely on sculptures to beautify your site.

Woman Taking a Shower Outdoors

Here is a rough list of how much water is used on average for different activities:

Single flush toilet cistern – 12 litres

Bath – 100 litres

10 minute shower – 200 litres

Dishwasher load – 50 litres

Washing machine load – 150 litres

Brushing teeth with tap running – 5 litres

Drinking, cooking, cleaning per person per day – 10 litres

Hand basin per use – 5 litres

Garden sprinkler per hour – 1000 litres

Garden dripper per hour – 4 litres

Car washing with hose – 200 litres

Hosing driveway – 100 litres

Total daily consumption per household – 900 litres

You can take this rough guide and measure it up against the rainfall of your area and how many people will be using the water on average. That will tell you what size tanks you will need and if you will need more tanks for backup water reserves.

Now you realise how much water you need, you must now decide on how you are going to harvest it. If you live in a high rainfall area, it is possible that you may live near a creek or a spring that runs all year. If this is the case, you may want to check to see if you need permission to pump water from the local creek for domestic use.

The beauty of using creek water is that it is already rich in mineral content and at times, the mere act of the creek running will be nearly sufficient filtration for human consumption. You may get away with just a basic particle filter before the water reaches the taps. You should take a sample of the water you are going to use and get it checked out. This will save you from getting sick and making yourself unable to live out your prosperity.

You will need to pump the water up to a header tank for domestic use. Again, there are so many different varieties of pumps, pipes, tanks and harvesting systems. You will need to research them all to find what is right for you. I am going to discuss the basics here just to get you going.

gravity feed water

Once the water is in the header tank and ready to use, we think back on what we discussed earlier regarding the cellular memory of water. When water is pumped and set through right angled pipes, it loses its molecular structure gets scrambled and almost goes through a state of trauma. Something you can do to combat this is setting up your site to gravity feed the water down to the house instead of using a pump, daily.

Only certain sites will be able to do this. You will need a site with a hill behind the house site. It will also need to be at an easily accessible spot for maintenance and repairs. The gravity fall will ensure that you always have water pressure, without using a pump. You will need at least a 12 metre vertical drop to have sufficient pressure. Measure out the slope until the hill has dropped by at least 12 metres. This is the safety zone. Another thing you can do is buy a water re-energizing unit. You can find them fairly cheap online. They replicate the waters journey through creeks and streams. The water passes through a matrix of silica balls, becomes stimulated and ready to use.

earthship water system

If you are going to be harvesting rainwater, you need to look at your roof as a bowl instead of a roof. The larger the roof, the more water you can harvest. This will help with large families that require more rooms, hence more water storage. Its important to consider that you dont want to compromise the thermal performance because of the desire for a larger roof. The larger the room, the harder it is to keep at a consistent temperature. Large gutters will be favourable also. They are easier to clean as well as holding and delivering more water. If you are harvesting rain water from the roof, you will either need to pump it to a header tank on higher ground, to a water tower or to constantly have the pump operating.

Now you are ready for your first use. In this design concept, the object is to reuse the same body of water 4 times. This will help areas of low rainfall and areas that experience a dry season. By conserving water, you will not have to eat into your water reserves as much as well as not having to use your pump as often.

First use water stations are:

  • Shower and bath

  • hand basins

  • washing machines and

  • the kitchen sink

When designing your house, elevating these areas will assist with the gravity feed of the grey water. Having your wet areas in the same general area will also save on piping and other materials that need to be bought. So having your wash room close to your kitchen will assist in this.

After you have your shower or wash your hands, you then need to do something with the waste water (or grey water as its called). In the living home concept, we filter the grey water inside using…

water food production home system

Interior food production cells

These cells serve two main functions:

  1. They filter and clean grey water and

  2. they grow food inside the living space.

The beautiful thing about this mutually beneficial relationship is that the pathogens from the grey water are processed before their disposal and the food enjoys nutrient rich water. The grey water is full of minerals, all of your sweat, skin cells and most importantly, your DNA. The seeds planted communicate with your DNA, providing you with fruit from the plants grown that end up tailor made to benefit your exact needs and requirements. Eating food in your lounge room that is seeded, grown and watered by you and your DNA. Now that there is magic.

What you plant is totally up to you. Decide what plants that you want close to you. Perhaps they could be herbs and vegetables that you use regularly in your cooking? Or it could even be herbal teas and other medicinal herbs? You will be living in a home that will be full of life. Full of plant life, water life and human life. The plants will help clean the air in a house that would otherwise be subject to stagnant energy. The plant life you surround yourself with will be the subtle teachers of your daily life.

The food production cells are usually inside of old bath tubs or other water proof containers. They flow using only gravity and they end up outside the house in a final garden/treatment bed. The bath tubs are layered with 60% gravel, 5% sand then the rest is soil and plants. At the point the water enters and exits there is a cutting of PVC pipe that is perforated to allow for the easy flow of water. The pipe is then surrounded with large rocks to also allow the water to flow easier. Doing this will prevent the water backing up, blocking up and you will have an access point to check the cell to make sure it is flowing. A body of water shouldnt be in the cell for longer than it takes for it to flow out. Stagnant water will breed bacteria and turn into an unhealthy environment for plants and people. The smell is horrendous! see above for a diagram of the dug out botanical cell.

When it comes to in-house gardening, this again is another subject that requires an entire book dedicated to it alone. Do your research and find out what practices and what elements you want to incorporate into your design.

Once the water has passed through the food production cell, it is then ready to be stored and used for…

Onsite sewerage treatment

The water does not have to be used for sewerage treatment if your situation calls for a dry composting toilet. In areas of low rainfall, it is advised to use a dry composting toilet because it frees up the filtered grey water to be used for other uses. The water could be used to water more garden beds and increase your food production. It could even be used for a washing machine if you arent too precious about using fresh water to wash already soiled clothing. Choose your own adventure!

Anyhow, back to composting toilets. Composting toilets can be very cheap to set up and the result is nutrient dense soil that is perfect for fertilising fruit trees. Here are the three main issues people have with using dry toilets:

  1. It smells

  2. Dealing with human waste

  3. Council permits

Firstly if the toilet smells, you are doing it wrong! A well functioning dry toilet should not have a strong odour. For a toilet to function well it needs two main elements at least. They are faecal matter and a carbon source. The carbon source masks the smell and the bacteria feeds off the sugar in the carbon source to turn the waste into compost. There are a number of great carbon sources. Anything from wood shavings to straw, loose leaf litter, fine charcoal and soil itself are good mediums. If it does start to smell, you can throw in some charcoal and any biological soil essence. That will get rid of the pathogens that make the smell and up the micro-organism count. Most smelly dry toilets happen as a result of urine getting mixed in with the body of waste. The urine turns the compost to soup and makes the entire thing smell like some sort of sulphur spill. Installing a decent urine separator and providing sufficient ventilation will eliminate this issue.

flush toilet and composting toilet

wet and dry toilet

The fear of dealing with our own waste is something that we have been conditioned to incorporate into our collective psychology. Metaphorically speaking, preventing people from dealing with their own waste is robbing them the magic that surrounds dealing with your own issues in life and allowing your spirit to evolve. We must collectively as a race, learn to deal with our own shit. Who knows, it may prevent wars and encourage peace on Earth.

Human waste is a resource that needs to be tapped into. It is so rich in nutrient. Dont rob your fruit trees of this delicious, life affirming treat. Once the waste container is set aside to brew, it will eventually turn to compost and dealing with it will become a pleasure.

As far as council permits go… Well, look into how your council views dry toilets and what the requirements they have. Work within the parameters they have. You want them on your side if you are going through their system.

If you really want to use a regular flush toilet, you can keep that as your third use for your water system. Once the grey water has flowed through your in house filtration system it needs to be stored in a large cistern somewhere, ready to be used for your flush toilet. This way you are flushing using filtered grey water instead of drinking water.

When you flush the toilet it can either go through a conventional septic or you can use a home made septic (see diagram below). The home made septic is essentially a hole dug out which is lined with firstly geofabric and then pond liner. You then stack large truck tyres in the hole. Surround the tyres with large smooth stones for filtration. Have an outlet pipe so the filtered black water can then go to an exterior black water garden bed. The septic should be primed with water, blood n bone and a bokashi mix. This will kick start the anaerobic composting process that will limit the pathogens released into the black water garden bed.

basic water and septic system for home

The black water garden bed should be in a spot with natural drainage. Line it with rocks, sand, soil and plants. Make it at least 10 metres long. At the end of the bed, the black water will be filtered enough to fertilise the surrounding soil. Dont put the septic or black water bed near a creek or any flowing water body.

This brings us to the last and most important part of the living home, which is…

Human interaction with the home

For most of the previous systems to function. They require human interaction. Human beings tie together the natural and systematic community that makes up the living home. Look at the living home as a series of integrated systems just as you would look at the human body. The human body requires a soul to exist (for the purposes of this point). We are to the living home what the spirit is to the human body.

For the home to function, we need to shower so the plants get watered, so there is water to flush the toilet. We need to make dinners, have gatherings and make love to assist in the thermal consistency of the home. We need to be there to do repairs, maintenance, touch ups and expand the capabilities of our homes. That is a big part of what makes them alive.

To live in this way is going to encourage the involvement of community. Who is going to look after and keep all these systems primed when you go on holidays? Someone is going to have to. A neglected living home will fade away without its human interaction. Just as the human body does once the soul vacates.


moon cycle living home - 11. death and beyond

11. Death and Beyond

Death is a part of life that is often treated with an enormous amount of fear and disengagement. The fear comes from its element of the unknown and the knowledge we have of our own supposed mortality. I put to you that everything on this planet operates in a cycle of immortality. Once anything dies, it gives new life to something else.

Take us for example. Once our spirit leaves the body in this form, the body will start to decay. If the body was just left in a field, it would become food for animals. If it was burried without a casket, it would give birth to billions of new organisms whose purpose in life would be to consume your body and turn you into compost. In this sense, there is no such thing as an end or a beginning. Just a continuous stream of events.

The collective fear of death translates into how we conduct our lives. Death can be associated with rubbish, waste, faeces and all the other events that happen towards the end of a particular cycle. We dump rubbish in a big hole away from where any humans can deal with it. We dump waste in the ocean and we use a large amount of energy transporting and processing human waste. Each time we dont deal with death, we create an environmental catastrophe. All of these ‘dead things’ ironically are the key to our survival on this planet.

Rubbish is a resource. Dont use the product if you cant use the byproduct. Give rubbish new life either in your home or any other number of ways. Use your creativity. Human waste is a resource that is full of nutrient. We discussed in the last step, one way that it can be used. By engaging with death in these small ways, it will open up the portal to the next cycle. We are living the cycle all the way to death and then we are stopping. Why?

With your design, take death into consideration. Not only your death, but the death and decay of your site. What is going to happen to it once you are gone? Is the building going to be an environmental hazard when it breaks down and returns to the earth? Who is going to continue your legacy after you are gone? Are you going to allow the freedom in your design for someone to take your legacy and be able to adapt it to make it their own? You are not going to be here anymore. So think about what people are going to be able to do with your creation once you have moved on.

That was the concept in its entirety.

Remember, this is just a guide to give you inspiration to go and create your own world. If there is something you dont agree with, change it! If there is something that you want to add in, add it in. There will be much more research you have to do once you finish reading this article. I only briefly brushed over each point. Otherwise it would have needed to be turned into a book! Perhaps one day it will. This will get you going for now. The purpose of this entire process is to assist people in reaching their true potential.

To all you adventurers out there, I say peace be with you and I wish you all the best for your journey to prosperity.

terraeden workshop crew

happy journeying!

1 what do you want out of life?

2 where do you draw your wisdom and inspiration?

3 your home as a conduit of wisdom and inspiration

4 ancient knowledge

5 society/government’s affect and role in your design

6 being your own myth

7 dream big!

8 being precious (free will, mistakes/growth shapes your story)

9 taking time and understanding signs

10 the living home

11 death and beyond

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24 Comments

  1. Kim

    Great stuff Duuvy! So much knowledge shared and covered, you include every aspect, wow! So beautifully and holistically encapsulated, love the images. I particularly relate to the ‘why”, getting to the core of where you’re at to be clear about your path of where you want to get to… Love this and will be sharing. Do you mind if I place a link on http://www.getrugged.co.uk? Thank you xx

  2. Ruth

    I love the phrase “wave your freak flag high” and love that you used a picture of my Grandfather for ancient knowledge…Every thing that you have written here has resonated deeply with me… It is exactly the information I have been looking for. Thankyou for your inspiration.

  3. Alex

    This is a far better calling in life than making Borscht for the masses, Duuvy…and yours is a pretty fine borscht. well done on what you are achieving with this. I am seriously impressed.

  4. Janet

    Hi Duuvi,
    Thank You for this comprehensive probing material you have put together!
    I am so looking forward to this workshop and having some fun11
    Sea you on the 23rd

    Janet 🙂

  5. Joe Coppini

    It is inspiring to see, some people finding the core of there love and direct it with such profound values. Terraeden assits people to find it within themselves, with what you are all doing. Or ar least me. Thanks. Love it all

  6. Eddie Houghton-Ward

    Great stuff! I agree entirely. As an architect I entirely agree with these principles. Building is the one big thing that we can do inspire confidence and integrating ourselves with the planet. Conventional building is a political system that creates money for governments, banks, accountants, and trash manufacturers as per the video. Well done for an inspiring message. My alternative email: drawdrawde2@gmail.com. just in case my optus thing expires.

    1. duuvy

      thank you for your kind words. its all about basically getting down to what is really important for ourselves and each other. conventional building has like you said, become an outlet for not only greed and politics but the building itself only serves the designers ego. they barely serve functionality let alone any kind of regenerative qualities. the point of this concept is for people to start trusting themselves again as well as finding out who they actually are to begin with! thanks again for reading and commenting 🙂

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