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Ecovillage design is a new field of knowledge still under development. It will be the physical manifestation of the unfolding of the ecovillage dream held by so many. In this article, I will sketch the different components, which should go into such a design, and illustrate with already implemented examples. It is to be expected that this field will evolve like a volcano, erupting in the years to come as the ideas and dreams of the grass roots around the world are allowed to sprout and manifest. There is such a richness in people’s imaginations once they are let loose. We may distinguish between three different aspects that will most likely melt together and become the foundation for integrated ecovillage design.
Many ecologically oriented ecovillages have started from the perspective of developing low impact lifestyles. They want to reduce the “ecological footprint” by as much as 80%. Permaculture design has been their primary method of choice. It was initiated 30 years ago by Bill Mollison, and carried on by David Holmgren, Max Lindegger, Declan Kennedy and thousands of other permaculture designers all over the world. It is based in the values of "care of the earth and of people". It has mainly been developed as seen from the perspective of the single-family dwelling and how houses were best integrated in nature. Zoning is done from here. Attention to watersheds and following the contours and slopes of the landscape is a distinctive chracteristic of permaculture design. It also includes the placement of houses according to the four directions, exposure to wind and sun, frequency of rainfall, creating microclimates, capacity to retain water etc. Dams may be built to retain water on its way to the ocean-for irrigation, swimming, microclimates and beauty. The placement and architecture of houses are based on these observations and follow ecological building principles. Infrastucture is also finding new expressions. The same considerations are used for the placement and methods of food production activities, renewable energy production, wastewater treatment facilities, recycling of waste, compost toilets and green businesses. Restoration of natural habitats and diversity of nature are guiding principles, as is the now classic concept of permaculture zones.
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