MSc in Integrative Ecosocial Design
Gaia University

Richard Kühnel

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Project Definition

Extending the Scope

The original project scope (see below) got recently extended when I realized that even though we really want to go forward in transforming our home, yard and lifestyles to a greener way of living, my passion is really into creating a situation with a much more purist approach that does make much less compromises in terms of material selection. Our existing home does not allow that without using a lot of resources and energy in changing a fairly well functioning house, which does not make sense. So we decided to take the front yard, the house and the North facing deck area as one part of the project and the rest of the backyard as another part, implementing an "Eco-Finca" that is designed and built from scratch following "ecosocionomic" design principles. It would use no metal, plastic or Portland cement, only natural materials, is a small, very functional living space, providing for all energy needs, water, sleeping, eating, resting and food. Designed in a way that it can serve as "crash bed" and that "modern" conveniences can be easily integrate later, like access for piping gas or water and tubing (bamboo), in which other types of pipes could be inserted for wiring, etc.

Original Definition

I decided to change the title for this project from "Urban Residential Retrofit for Sustainable Living" to "Urban Residential Re-Design for Sustainable Living". The word "retrofit" sounds a little bit like plumbing and more focused on the constructive piece of this project, leaving out the social and economic thinking going into it.
This project is intended to showcase and realize an example how to transform over a few years of time a fairly "regular" single residence home in a town setting into a place of urban sustainable living or taking major steps towards that goal that is applicable to a wide range of residential situations. I realized that even when following ecological principles when creating a new system, it uses additional materials, additional energy and new additional infrastructures for utilities and therefore has a big ecological footprint. My vision is to take the already existing built environment, in this case our home, and redesign it in a way that achieves a significant reduction of the ecological footprint with a minimum of resources and costs and at the same time without lowering the quality and comfort of living.
This project has been a wish of mine for a long time. I have been waiting to live sustainable, using permaculture or live in an ecovillage, always looking for the right situation instead of doing it right where I live now.
I am setting out to use all what I have learned over the years in design and project management, learn, continue my personal journey and create a lovely place for Berta and myself - creating Garden Eden at Oak 908, living sustainable and having a lot of fun, with similar ease and comfort than now.

home | introduction | career | survey | design | implementation I | implementation II | review | contact