WHAT MIGHT BUILDINGS, SETTLEMENTS AND EVEN REGIONS LOOK LIKE THROUGH THE LENS OF PERMACULTURE DESIGN? PART 1
This is part 1 of 2 of a transcript of a talk given by Paul Jennings to the recent SBUK Big Straw Bale Gathering. Paul has built his straw-bale family home on a ‘One-Planet Development’ smallholding in Wales (costing £12,000).
My partner and I built our first straw bale house in 2000, a very low spec Nebraska-style cabin on shipping pallets, with reclaimed windows, vigas cut on the site for a single pitch roof. It was 20m long and 6m wide, like a straw bale railway carriage; reclaimed forklift truck floor and earth rendered walls. We built it without planning permission, on the farm rented by the co-op we were members of, became something of a local cause celebre, and when we left, the building transitioned through accommodation for another couple, to an artist’s studio, and was finally disassembled, recycled and composted. £4000 build.
We’ve done quite a lot of funky self-building since, and we’re living in another straw bale cabin now on an OPD project in Carmarthenshire. £12,000 build. I’m not going to talk about straw bale building though, at least not directly. I’m going to talk about issues related to it, and how I think Permaculture design might be relevant to straw bale builders.
Asked why Permaculture emerged in Tasmania, David Holmgren said that it’s a place where nature and modernity collide, both creatively and destructively. It was a place where the ferment of the 1960s, the rising awareness, after the publication of the Limits to Growth, of the strain being placed on the Earth system, and on-the-ground resistance to environmental destruction, coalesced into a rising environmental consciousness.
Holmgren says of Bill Mollison, Permaculture’s perhaps more famous originator, that his “life and ideas epitomised a creative bridge between nature and civilisation and between tradition and modernity.”
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