Enabler Publications

Books to feed the Mind and Spirit

Another kind of space

Another kind of space

creating ecological dwellings and environments

Sample from this book:

Introduction

This book has been published at the end of February 2003. It has been compiled by Graham Meltzer and Alan Dearling. Graham is an architect and long term member of the world’s intentional communities’ movement. His doctorate at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia was on co-housing. Alan is currently senior research consultant with the Chartered Institute of Housing in the UK. He also has a long history of involvement in environmental action, particularly with regards modern nomads, travellers, young people and eco-protest.

Travellers camper busAt different levels, and for different audiences, this book offers a window into a better world. It contains a fascinating and inspirational selection of dwellings, living spaces and environments from around the world, all of which are deliberately fashioned by people and communities seeking to live in greater harmony and awareness with each other and the natural world. Some of the dwellings provide shelter for nomadic travellers; some are situated on communes and intentional communities; others are settlements on permaculture and organic farms; still more provide homes to rural and urban individuals, households and groups who are keen to find ‘another way’ of living.

The book provides an insight into some of the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of ecological dwellings - particularly focusing on the personal motivations and lifestyles of the people who have chosen to build and live in them. These initiatives have not taken place in isolation from the rest of urban, rural and global development. ‘Big’ issues such as population expansion, environmental pollution and employment trends are also parts of the wider canvas on which housing and lifestyle choices (or lack of them) are a part. Indeed, every new day supplies us with media coverage of local, national and international initiatives in environmental, economic and social arenas that have impact, both positive and negative, on all aspects of planetary life. It is difficult to make sense, on the basis of these commentaries and reportage, of the complex and contradictory developments taking place. Unfortunately, and not a little confusingly, even the terms used: ‘environment’, ‘sustainability’, ‘low-impact’, ‘green’, ‘alternative and intermediate technology’ and many more, are subject to widely varying interpretations. For conservationists and environmental activists ‘low-impact’ can mean protecting a piece of land from any development; whereas for nomadic people, it may mean living on the land in temporary dwellings whichTee Pees leave no lasting imprint. For ‘green’ architects a low-impact dwelling may mean building in a way that is sensitively integrated into the natural landscape, but for planners, it may mean building upwards to provide higher density accommodation.

You start to see the contradictions.

...personal views and alternative dwelling...

This is a very personal book. It offers personal responses to divergent worldviews. It is also personal in the sense that we, the authors, believe passionately that its content is important, and personal in the sense that elements of our own lives have provided much of the rationale for the choices we’ve made about the contents. Without going into detail, the contents reflects the fact that Graham has been a longstanding member of intentional communities, an innovator in the cohousing movement and is now, a ‘green’ architect who teaches (socially and environmentally responsive) community design in Australia. Alan, as a youth and community worker, full time writer and researcher of over 20 books, and contributor to the UK and European counter cultural and housing scene, brings to the book, a different set of experiences. Both have travelled extensively and actively use the Internet as an additional and powerful medium to communicate with people across the world.

Particularly since the early 1990s, questions about sustainability and the need for development with low environmental impact, have provided key challenges for planners, policy makers and housing professionals. Living holistically, in environmentally sensitive dwellings has become a focus for those striving to establish a lifestyle that reflects their social and environmental concerns. It is no longer just a part of an abstract, theoretical, semantic, academic or even utopian debate. In response, Part Two of this book offers divergent views and varied experiences of a range of ‘alternatives’. These are personal accounts of the lives and lifestyles with which ‘dwellings’ are inextricably bound. They are also ‘warts and all’ in the sense that they include accounts of what goes wrong and well as recounting the ‘good times’. One of the messages at the heart of the book is that the relationship between people and their dwellings can be far more proactive and positive than previously imagined. How we build, use, and develop our dwelling spaces is a matter of lifestyle choice.

...there is ‘another way’...

This book provides a wide range of contributions and examples that show that there is ‘another way’ - a number of ways, in fact. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people have put extraordinary levels of thought and ingenuity into a diverse range of alternative types of homes and shelter. Some are based on the indigenous dwellings and lifestyles of tribal people. At the other end of the spectrum are complex dwellings designed by a new wave of ‘green’ architects. Their commonality is frequently some kind of environmental ethos and aspiration. These dwellings are lifestyle statements - highly personal, frequently celebratory - shelters integral to other aspects of the occupants’ lives. In a very real sense they are ecological, hence our choice of the term ‘eco-dwellings’, as a way of describing them in one, catch-all phase! Some are conceived and made a reality within a tribal or communal social setting, the creative process contributing to the ‘social sustainability’ of that community. Others are much more individualistic, even hedonistic, ranging from slightly eccentric living structures built in inaccessible spots in forests, mountains or underground, through to expensive, high-tech solutions to energy efficiency and sustainable living.

...inspiration, options and ideas...

In Part One, we set the scene by offering our own contribution to the debate on issues such as environmentalism, design, energy efficiency, appropriate technology, sustainability, community and other development issues such as those identified in Agenda 21 of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit document. The examples presented in Part Two of Another kind of space, collectively offer a glimpse into the social realities and the personal stories lying behind the physical nature of ecological dwellings. At a time of increasing social alienation and dysfunction, we sincerely hope that the examples in the book can offer inspiration, options and ideas for people wishing to make an important and personally meaningful contribution to sustainable development.
Alan and Graham

Other samples from Another kind of space:

Another kind of spaceAnother kind of space

Alan Dearling with Graham Meltzer

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