ECO-LIVING

Alanna Moore and her giant cabbage

Alanna Moore and her giant cabbage

Staying alive, or ‘living’, depends on having access to water, food and shelter. Traditionally, in settled communities, these necessities were acquired directly by people living close to sources of fresh water, through the cultivation of land, the sowing of seeds, the harvesting of crops, the processing and storing of food and by designing and constructing permanent dwelling places.

Apart from the need to obtain physical necessities in order to stay alive, early settled life is characterised by an outpouring of creative representations of an ‘Earth Mother’. These expressions of an invisible realm or ‘inner world’ existing beyond the visible one apparently arose as a result of constructing and inhabiting permanent dwellings places.

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In what might be described as ‘an awakening of consciousness’ the representations of an ‘inner world’ characteristic of early settled communities in all probability were prompted as a consequence of the similarities between people and the shelters they created.

Buildings have material exteriors and immaterial interiors just as people have material bodies and an immaterial inner world. It appears to be the case that when people first constructed and inhabited permanent shelters this prompted the conscious realisation of their own endeavours in respect of surviving or, ‘living’. This, in turn, encouraged the creative expression of this awareness in the form of an ‘Earth Mother’, such early artistic expressiveness being the foundation of human culture.

It is within the invisible parts of architecture that the mysteries of life reside, cleverly disguised as nothingness! Model of 10sqm EconoSpace

It is within the invisible parts of architecture that the mysteries of life reside, cleverly disguised as nothingness!
Model of 10sqm EconoSpace

When buildings are created a portion of pre-existing [Universal] space is separated off with walls, a floor and a roof. The resulting enclosed space reduces the vast Universe to a manageable or ‘human’ scale which facilitates people in managing their connection not only with the vast outer world but also with their personal inner world as represented by the enclosed space.

It can be imagined that the stimulus provided by such lived experience prompted further exploration of the invisible aspects of life, not only in respect of people but also in respect of nature, particularly in relation to the cultivation of land, the sowing of seeds and the harvesting of crops.

Instant EcoVillage 1

Instant EcoVillage 1

This survival strategy essentially remained the same through thousands of years until the industrialised age when essential living needs began to be provided via ‘market economies’ in which people worked in order to obtain money with which to purchase water, food and shelter produced by others.

While practical and understandable as an improvement on the traditional subsistence economies these modern industrialised economies have forged a disconnect with the invisible realm characteristic of planet and people. This has now prompted an urgent search for an alternative and viable survival strategy which might be described as ‘eco-living’.

Eco-living strives to establish meaningful and ‘sustainable’ connections to the material and immaterial realities of life through a conscious revision of the means by which people obtain water, food and shelter and consciously engage with the natural world. There are no practical ready-made models for how this might be realised. It appears to be the case that the establishment of such a way-of-life is destined to evolve creatively through trial and error.

Fascination and absorption at the Inchicore Workshop Sheltermaker Tour 2013

Fascination and absorption at the Inchicore Workshop
Sheltermaker Tour 2013

Possibly vehicles for such exploration could usefully be based on direct engagement with how one obtains the water, food and shelter necessary for their survival. I believe the stimulus derived from such direct conscious engagement with survival has been removed through ‘progress’. Interestingly, the practice of ‘gardening’ and the satisfying engagement with nature derived from it, continues to provide stimulus – and oftentimes food! – to people.

The practice of designing and building shelters however – what I call ‘sheltermaking’ – has been eclipsed by an impersonal building industry that pays no heed to the vital but invisible realities of the living world. In addition, planning legislation restricts such possible engagement with the built environment in order to protect a lucrative property sector.

LAExp1

All is not lost however! It is still possible to creatively and consciously engage with the sheltermaking process by exploiting inherent freedoms within planning legislation which allow for the construction of small buildings within the curtilage of established dwellings or within woodlands, without the need to obtain planning permission.

In this way people can freely engage with the sheltermaking process by creating a ‘living architecture’ thereby consciously establishing a context within which life-enhancing stimuli can be experienced.

Because eco-living, in essence, is a new way of life it requires an eco-architecture to properly experience it. Eco-architecture consists of nothing more than four walls, a floor and a roof but, because of how it is consciously imagined and realised, it can provide an ideal context within which to experience eco-living.

LAC Office

LAC Office

LIVING ARCHITECTURE & SHELTERMAKING

Living Architecture is the conscious design and construction of buildings appropriate to the living of a conscious and integrated life – eco-living – providing context for the potentiality inherent in an individual’s life to be consciously experienced, nurtured and assisted in developing.

Sheltermaking is the construction of a consciously and sensitively designed shelter – the ‘living architecture’ – within which to experience eco-living.