There seems to be a very strong interest (or fetish?) in making more & more "eco"buildings, among people looking to live in a more sustainable way.
This is actually quite strange given that the biggest job we have now facing humans is to restore soil & habitats we have stolen from other species - rather than take up yet more space for our own homes.
The reality is that there are already more houses than people who need houses, in most 'developed' countries & also that the climate we're in (humid tropics) means that shelter is really not the big priority it is in northern countries. Traditional houses here are small as people tended to spend a lot of time outside, all year round. What if we decided to live that way again ....
"Hobbit Dome" design
During the initial phase, people who join us will live at the Guest House while a comprehensive study of the land is done and the integral design for the EcoVillage is proposed. Of course there will be people who want to stay on the land for a spell
There's a huge amount of recyclable and reusable materials in Panama that normally end up in the landfills (or alongside the roads). We propose that houses and other structures built at the EcoVillage be designed and built with the highest 'garbage' content possible. Plastic bottles, tires, glass bottles, metal roofing materials - all can be used in construction. Old shipping containers, which are abundant in Panama, can be converted into houses, worskhops, storage areas, and even swimming pools. These materials can be complemented with natural products from the surroundings.
"Hobbit Domes" are one proposal that we can experiment with. These would be small dwellings made with up to 95% recycled materials that people can build for themselves.
Domes aren't the only option for houses, however, there are tons of ideas that can be tried out for people who want to practice the ideal of down-sizing and "living simply so that others may simply live" and who also understand that experimenting with recycled materials for construction can lead to useful innovation.
An important lesson from our friends at 8thLife La Palma, who say:
Richie is onto his second island: the new island is about 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter, and plants and mangroves are already growing on it. It contains about 100,000 bottles. The new island has beaches, a house, two ponds, a solar-powered waterfall and river, and solar panels. Volunteers helped with the project. Sowa will continue to make improvements to the Island, so it will always be a work of art in progress.
Click on the pictures for links.
Here is a short video we made in spanish about this (it's called Transforming Rubbish into Dreams & is presented as a crowd-funding project - which you are very welcome to use if you wish to fund your stay in a very original way)
The domes could be something this, only smaller, super-insulated and not made mainly out of cement.
Vídeo de YouTube
Photos of some structures at 8thLife La Palma,
by Kahlil Gibran
"Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless.
Does not your house dream? and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hill-top?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
But these things are not yet to be.
In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together.
And that fear shall endure a little longer.
A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields.
And tell me, people of OrphaIese, what have you in these houses?
And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?
Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.
Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.
It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.
It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night".