Alanna Moore has invited me to provide the ecobuilding component of her EcoLiving School.

IMG_9275Sml This will focus on the design and construction of an octagonal 25sqm garden building based on the EconoSpace, a building type which I have developed over the past 10 years.

These small, green, low-impact sustainable shelters, configured to suit individual wants and needs, can be constructed on a shoestring budget in the average back garden or within a private woodland without planning permission being required.

The empowerment derived from the experience of designing and constructing EconoSpaces facilitates people in exploring the exciting world of Living Architecture and EcoLiving.

Living architecture is based on the idea that consciously designed and constructed natural buildings can provide a suitable context within which the dynamics of EcoLiving to be experienced.

EcoLiving is a way-of-life concerned with the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of people and planet.

Because EcoLiving is a new way of life it requires a suitable architecture to facilitate it’s exploration as an alternative way of nurturing and sustaining human aliveness – living sustainably, in other words.

I have written extensively on the relationship between people and buildings and there are articles, photographs as well as abundant film footage of the practice and experience of Living Architecture projects realised over the past 30 years to be found on this website.

_70565398_trulli_tall_getty Traditions of people designing and constructing shelters appropriate to their living needs exist across the planet. Such survival activity combined with food production is the origin of settled life and the wellspring from which culture and identity emerge.

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution this type of activity has been in decline. The provision of shelter by communities and individuals has now morphed into a property market operated by strangers with its mandatory debt obligations and its serious deficiencies in respect of providing affordable, healthy, adaptable and versatile designs suited to sustainable ecoliving.

Property has now become so serious, being the cornerstone of the prevailing economic system, that it excludes all consideration other than those to do with money and work. Similarly, food production has been commodified as has ready access to potable water.

While common sense can welcome improvements in day to day living compared to the hardships of the past, there is nonetheless a growing trend towards the development of ways of life that accord with natural systems, that satisfy physical needs while offering psychological comfort, foster creativity and stimulate meaningful cultural expression.

It may be the case that the loss of traditional sheltermaking activity and the culture and identity loss that accompany it, resulting from the widespread adoption of the survival methodology of the industrial age, is inspiring such trends towards sustainable ecoliving.

LAExp1 Re-engaging with the sheltermaking process, even while trapped within modern yet alien architectural forms, offers one the potential to reactivate dormant sheltermaking abilities coded within ones genes thereby providing one with not only a fresh perspective on the outer world but also on the inner one too.

Buildings are mostly made of space which is the stuff of the Universe! When we consciously hive off a portion of this Universal space by separating it with walls, a floor and a roof the resulting enclosed space reduces the vast Universe to a manageable scale. This facilitates us in managing our connection not only with the vast outer world but also with our personal inner world as represented by the enclosed safe-space.

Model of structure of 2 storey Actual House

Model of structure of 2 storey Actual House

In essence, buildings are a reflection of people insofar as both have material exteriors and immaterial interiors. When this understanding is applied to the eco-building design+construction process, and a consciously constructed safe-space is created, this facilitates one in getting in touch with what might best be described as ‘the dream of their life’. This ability of architecture to assist people in realising their inner potential is generally overlooked because Property has become an essential driver of economic growth.

To creatively and consciously engage with the sheltermaking process inherent freedoms within planning legislation can be exploited. These 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 the life-enhancing stimuli associated with eco-living can properly be experienced.

Hands-on Sheltermaking

Hands-on Sheltermaking

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 has the potential to provide an ideal context within which to experience eco-living. The Octagonal EconoSpace is such a building.

On a practical level designing and constructing a small garden or woodland eco building is not necessarily all plain sailing. Obstacles or sudden storms may appear and responses to these have to be managed. The trick is to deal with such challenges at the design stage because generally these are psychological issues concerning the shift towards EcoLiving that require contemplation and time to understand and resolve. If this is done construction work can be freed of such impediments and proceed unhindered. In this way an ideal context can be created whereby that life can freely develop. Such dynamics are at the heart of the Living Architecture approach and an essential aspect of EcoLiving .

Where all of this can be experienced in one’s own back garden or within a woodland setting it provides a perfect and realisable means to explore and understand the world of ecoliving and can provide clear direction in an otherwise confusing world – without having to sell up and relocate.

To register your interest in participating in the Octagonal EconoSpace EcoBuilding Project use this CONTACT FORM putting ‘OctoEcono’ in the subject line.


The proposed Octagonal EconoSpace ecobuilding project will demonstrate the process required to design, construct and utilise an EconoSpace. In particular the project will explore the dynamics of what I call ‘invisible architecture’. This focuses on the aspects of people and buildings that are similar – in essence, thier invisible interiors from which both derive their vitality.

It is, I believe, by exploring and positively utilising this similarity between people and buildings that a fresh and urgently needed new perspective on the role buildings play in sustaining human life can be more widely understood and applied to both new as well as existing buildings, particularly dwelling places.

Participation in this project will allow people to configure their own EconoSpace design as well as gaining the basic ecobuilding skills necessary to creating their own EconoSpace or to oversee others who might undertake it on their behalf.

All participants, especially those intending to create their own EconoSpaces, are encouraged both to read up on published ARTICLES and to begin the design process for their version of the EconoSpace using preliminary material from the EconoSpaceMaking Course DVD, before attending any Workshop. This material will be provided free upon registering to participate.

Time will be made available in the programme for group Q&A sessions regarding these individual design exercises. The project is to be run on a co-operative, non-profit basis. Alanna Moore will be providing the site, the working facilities and the necessary building materials while I will be donating my knowledge, experience and time free of charge. The quoted fees below therefore are calculated on the basis of covering set-up, catering and running costs only.

It is planned to initiate a Turn-Off-To-Turn-On policy during the project in order for all involved to be fully in The Now. This will require participants to turn off their mobile devices while work is ongoing. Photo and reconnecting opportunities will be scheduled into the programme as will formal discussion time.


NOTE: All dates subject to review relative to developments regarding the outbreak of COVID19

Workshop 1 Easter Weekend
Sat 11th-Mon 13th April

The EconoSpace Concept; Activity+Site Analysis; Configuration of this version of the EconoSpace; Setting out the building on-site; Construction tools+equipment; Building materials; Working Drawings; Basic woodwork skills; Constructing a bench and jig; Making peter-posts and floor beams.

Workshop 2
Sat 18th-Sun 19th April

Making peter-posts and floor beams ongoing; Setting out and laying foundations; installing floor beams; framing up and erecting walls; preparing and installing roof beams and rafters.

Workshop 3
Sat 25th-Sun 26th April

Ongoing framing up; window/doorframe making and installation; preparing for roofing.

Workshop 4.
Sat 2nd-Sun 3rd May

Walling; window/doorframe making; installing floor structure.

Workshop 5
Sat 9th-Sun 10th May

Continuation of above.


Sat 16th-Sun 17th May Based on a rectangular 25sqm EconoSpace design this 2-day Workshop will provide a shortened version of Workshops 1-2 detailed above. The components of a frame for a rectangular 25sqm will be on-site and this will be temporarily erected during the course of the weekend.

EconoSpace frame under construction

EconoSpace frame under construction


Sat 23rd-Sun 24th May
Sat 30th-Sun 31st May
Sat 7th-Sun8th June
Sat June 13th SOLAR POWER with Peter Schneider
Sun June 14th Converting your regular bicycle to an electric bike.
Sat July 11th BOG WALK with Tommy Earley


A former EconoSpaceMaking student has now become an EconoSpace benefactress, generously donating funds with which it is planned to produce a film aimed at raising and promoting awareness of the critical role architecture plays in all aspects of modern life. The Octagonal EconoSpace project will feature in this, highlighting the potential that small building such as the EconoSpace have in facilitating the introducion of an element of EcoLiving into their lives in their own own back garden or within a woodland setting without having to sell up and relocate.


Making & using natural paints
Greywater recycling
Compost toilet design, construction and use

Mary Kennedy from Nationwide visits EconoSpace Art Studio

Mary Kennedy from Nationwide visits EconoSpace Art Studio


€30 per day; Camping €10 per night; Caravan (suitable for 2 people, a couple or 2 friends sharing) €30 per night. Participants planning to attend for only one day of a Workshop weekend will not receive any individual catch-up instruction. However all participants will be encouraged to share their learning experience with fellow students.


Participants in Workshops can avail of volunteer opportunities to participate in ongoing work on the Octagonal EconoSpace and on other EconoSpaces located nearby, on non-Workshop weekends or weekdays. Tasks will be assigned on the basis of proficiency displayed relative to the work to be undertaken. Mentoring in all aspects of the practice of Living Architecture & Sheltermaking will be offered to volunteers.

To register your interest in participating in the Octagonal EconoSpace EcoBuilding Project use this CONTACT FORM putting ‘OctoEcono’ in the subject line.