• Bolivian Story: Maria Calzadilla

    One sunny day I went to a Mercadito Pop [a fair] and discovered an amazing electric blue felted hat I just had to have to protect me from the harsh sun we get here at the high altitude of La Paz. The lady designing and selling these unique hats was Maria. I noticed straight away she was a woman caring about design. You know those sort of people, right? They look effortless. They always have something ever so slightly different hanging from their ears or neck, but never too over-the-top or in-your-face. This is Maria – comfortable, unique, creative and warm. She’s the sort of person who wears what she…

  • Week 7 – Eco-building in the Pyrenees, Inspiration in the Mountains

    During week 7 of my eco-building adventure, we spent a few days visiting Pierre’s mountain house to get some fresh air, a break from work and see some of the design elements he implemented there. It was inspiring to see his designs and thoughts about space actually implemented (see the week 6 post for more about designing space). This week I will simply share with you some images from the mountains and Pierre’s house and garden. He purchased an old house a decade ago and improved it substantially – essentially all by himself. As you look through the pictures, think about his use of space, the colours, the types of…

  • Week 6 – Eco-building in the Pyrenees, Natural Painting, Plastering and Designing

    This week saw us continuing the ceiling insulation, sanding and painting the timber ceiling and flooring with  linseed oil, painting window frames with natural paint and applying cow dung plaster. Linseed Oiling The linseed oil is actually a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine mixed 2L:330ml. It is used to protect the timber from the elements andincrease its durability. It also increases its resistance from being destroyed by insects or fungus. From what I’ve read, the function of linseed oil as a preservative is believed to be related to its action as a water repellent and drying agent rather than a direct biocidal activity.   Natural Painting  The natural paint is a mixture of pigment,…

  • Sub-tropical Permaculture Design for Friends

    Friends have recently purchased a house and they asked me to do a permaculture design for them.  This post describes what I provided them with.  I don’t have much experience (my only other full design is here) but I’ve had lots of fun thinking about it, feel really excited by some of the ideas I’ve provided and, of course, look forward to your feedback and suggestions which are always welcome. 🙂 There was no chance of getting a full design for my friend’s new house completed due to time, weather and other restrictions, so what I provided were some suggestions but warned them they would need to note the existing…

  • Urban Permaculture in Practice

    What is Permaculture?  Well, this is where I find it difficult to explain because it seems like it’s EVERYTHING – it’s gardening, it’s organic, it’s energy systems, it’s sustainability, it’s agriculture, it’s raising animals, it’s pest control, it’s regeneration of natural ecosystems, it’s efficiency, it’s energy efficient building and architecture, it’s a philosophy, a way of living, it’s community building… and more.  It’s a word that joins PERMANENT and AGRICULTURE but has been extended to include CULTURE too.  Perhaps the founder, Bill Mollison, can describe it better for you with these quotes: “An integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man” “Consciously designed landscapes…

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