EcoSphere Garden
For the Renascense project
Elevation Looking North - 1978
This Elevation, looking North, illustrates the basic grammar and many of the features of the building and explicates a number of essential design strategies: planted berm, thermal mass, public and public areas, prospect and refuge shaped by platforms, sun and view flaps. It was conceived to be a prototype for Domicile One and then be moved when Domicile was ready to be built. The yields from an urban greenhouse would provide direct feedback for design of the greenhouse.

See also:
EcoSphere [link: ecosphere]
Bay Area Studio [link: bay area studio]
Dome Dwellings [link: dome dwellings]
Mega Cities [link: mega cities]
Crystal Cave [link: crystal cave]
Domicile [link: domicile design development]

Domicile One ver. 3.0 - 2010
aspects of the design
Removable Structure:
EcoSphere Garden is designed to rest on a wood and gravel bearing system. The gravel also acts as a heat sink for the energy system. Top soil is scraped away, holes are dug fro the interior platform bearing columns (in this case, telephone poles), the wood parameter planting boxes placed in conjunction with vapor barriers and the gravel. This system was successfully tested out, as a permanent installation, with the Instead project [link:instead] in 1980. This site adapting strategy was conceived for the original EcoSphere [econsphere site strategy] design. The interior “flooring” surface is brick pavers laid on a sand bed and vapor barrier over the gravel.
When the EcoSphere Garden site is required for another use, the structure and materials are remove (most likely to another site in transition) and the structure re-erected. Making transportable buildings economical provides an alternative [link: architectural projects - movable offices] to the present approach in real estate development of building inexpensive permanent buildings on land not yet ready for high-end development. This in-place land development design strategy is flawed and leads to land-use economic "boom and bust” [link: real estate - move it] cycles and unnecessary ecological damage.
Interior and Exterior Garden:
The garden is the focus of this project. The concept of garden, however, is an expanded one. Here is a garden that is inside and outside while making one seamless environment. A garden that is ornamental and food producing. An environment to be in as much as to produce. A place to grow and consume food, as well as, sit, rest, dialog, bathe.
The EcoSphere Garden was conceived to be an example of, and a tool for, the greening of the urban/suburban landscape. It offers an alternative to the damaging practice of industrialized food production with its attendant infrastructure and transportation costs. Food can be produced economically in small quantities; it can be organic; it can be produced at “the point of sale” and consumption. This is far healthier and more ecologically sound than present practices. The design goal, using a combination of “French Intensive,” Permaculture and tank fish farming, is to demonstrate that a balanced food source can be created in small units, in the city, all seasons of the year. And, to show that this can be achieved economically while providing a recreational community experience.
Articulating Skin:
The entire exterior wall/roof of the EcoSphere Garden is made up of opening and shutting panels that control temperature, light, radiation and view in and out. While EcoSphere does not move, what makes it an “EarthShip” is that its sense of orientation is “controlled” by how these panels are set. The panels are controlled by a series of lines much like the rigging of a traditional ship. Therefore the building is “sailed” like a ship providing a variety of different interior and exterior experiences. Since the Renascence Project was interested (among other things) in alternatives in energy, food production and collaborative use of resources, this version of Ecosphere Garden was deliberately low-tech and labor intensive. The building is designed to be worked like a homestead with food production on the scale of a community garden. The default mode in architecture is to make the environment as efficient (so called), and requiring as little human participation, as possible. This puts the user in a passive mode and tries to turn architecture into merely a visual art. The EcoSphere Garden challenges this trend, embraces all the senses, demands awareness and interaction and rewards involvement. It becomes an organic bridge between the human-made world and the natural environment. This then is an architecture of experience based on a way-of-life.
The EcoSphere Garden was designed to be a community experience centered around food, dialog and bathing. The Renascence Project had restored an old house and in this environment created library, meeting and eating spaces for Renascence Library members. The Garden was designed to supplement these spaces and to provide R&D in urban landscaping and gardening. It also was designed to be an experiment in community collaboration and work. In addition to the food growing function re-creation is a major concern of this design in the form of meeting spaces for reading and dialog, bathing facilities and dining. At the time this design was created, the Library served between 8 and 25 dinners an evening to its 100 plus members and their guests. The ceremony of community food preparation, eating, dialog and music is the late afternoon and evening function of this environment while the craft of serious food production is the day function. Besides these intrinsic values, this project was designed to be a test of certain design assumptions, related to the economics of shared resources, behind the Domicile project [link: domicile one]. This greening of urban landscapes [link: san francisco vertical housing] is essential for revitalizing and humanizing cities and suburban areas. Also critical , done right, for enhancing bio-diversity.
April 30, 2010 Comments:
Here is the tragedy of our times. The U.S. is in a recession with high unemployment. Houses are being repossessed and in many cases torn down. Previously comfortable families are struggling to feed themselves. Inner cities are even harder hit with a great number of open lots. Many of those out of work are in fact highly skilled craft-persons. Those that are not skilled need to learn the discipline of work even if the skill set is not necessarily on a long term employment track. Food prices are still going up. The quality of food is going down. Too many people have time on their hands (instead of productive work in their hands) and are losing self esteem and hope. Distractions and drugs rule here. Most “modern” urban people do not know how to feed and house themselves yet - without question - the knowledge, skills and resources can be found in their own community. Is there something more than strange about this picture? It would be highly humorous if it were not so tragic.
A highly crafted ecoSphere Greenhouse can be built out of mostly salvaged and donated materials and planted in a month of weekends by about 25 people. It can turn an abandoned lot into a productive garden. It can build community, develop skills, fight pollution, clean water, produce food and teach empty lives that they can be active, productive agents of their own lives. It can also create capital, social commons and equity. This might even be better than reality TV - maybe even Prozac and other drugs of choice. What can be created is a PLACE for meeting, engaging in healthy, organic work, community dining, music, chess, classes and neighborhood action. The ecoSphere Greenhouse can be be built out of stuff our society throws away every day and it can be a work of art and fountainhead of learning.
Once prototyped, with a set of plans and couple of project managers, replication can start at scale. Areas where there are people in real poverty can be engaged in the worthy act of learning how to feed themselves. Why do we ship food to Haiti? Lets ship knowledge, plans, the few critical pieces which are not local - lets help create self reliance and self esteem. Lets create economy. Is this difficult? No, it is not. It actually is fun. It is called sustainable architecture.
GoTo: Inner City Development
GoTo: FutureViews Exercise
GoTo: for food growing policy
Return to Index
GoTo: A Future By Design Not Default
GoTo: Domicile One
GoTo: EcoSphere Bungalow
GoTo: FutureViews - Matt’s BLOG
GoTo: Katrina - An Unnatural Disaster
GoTo: Money - the tool that became...
GoTo: The Monkey’s Paw
GoTo: Nature of Experience
GoTo: planetary Architecture
GoTo: RDS Index
GoTo: Real Estate Development
GoTo: ReDesigning the Future
GoTo: Renascence Reports v.1#10 p8
GoTo: Sydney Talk - March 2010
GoTo: UpSideDown Economics
GoTo: ValueWebs
GoTo: ValueWeb Architecture
GoTo: Weak Signals
GoTo: Worthy Problems

Matt Taylor
in flight Palo Alto to Atlanta
May 19, 2001


SolutionBox voice of this document:

click on graphic for explanation of SolutionBox

posted: May 19, 2001

revised: April 30, 2010
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note: this document is about 62% finished

Total time: Drawings (original) and Notes (web page) to date: 34 hours