The client’s vision was to create a pioneering, integrated, partial private ownership and part not-for-profit organic farming facility that included cutting-edge technologies, natural buildings, sustainable living systems and co-operative education. The farm would include principles of organic farming, food preservation, permaculture, sustainable building and alternative energy resources, enhancing the economy of the local township. The Sustainable Learning Centre classroom would encompass a working organic farm, mixed livestock, a model home, seminar space, farm offices, fish pond farm, cropland, geothermal greenhouses, a small forest along the river edge and plenty of open space meadows.
The foundations are proposed to be made from a concrete mix of hempcrete with high flyash. The main structure would be either round or square timber posts which support timber beams. The lower floor is insulated with hempcrete and upper floor is either reclaimed or FSC wood. The external walls are hemp/strawbale with earth plaster on the inside and cement-lime plaster on the outside. The internal walls and finishes are proposed as earth plaster, cob and/or eco-drywall with recycled denim, hemp or sheep’s wool for added sound insulation as required.
The roof is proposed to be supported either with trussed joists, insulated with blown cellulose insulation and boarded with local or FSC wood planks. An EPDM membrane will provide a waterproof layer for the sedum/herb living roof on the north and the gravel/green roof on the south. Glazing will be double or triple depending on their aspect.
Passive & Active Solar Design – The southern glazing will capture the sun’s heat and this will then be stored thermally in the floors and/or walls. Photovoltaic panels will be incorporated to supply the electrical needs of all the buildings. Natural lighting in all the rooms is emphasized.
Wind Power – Small scale wind turbines will also be implemented to utilize the strong N-W winds available on the site.
Ventilation and Infiltration – The main entrances will be designed as airlocks with natural ventilation air flow integrated throughout the house.
Space/Water Heating – The buildings will be designed to be super-insulated and thus require minimum heating. Heating will be provided by means of under-floor, radiant heating.
Heating Fuel – Fuel for heating will be sourced from a variety of different methods such as geothermal, wood and/or biomass. Biomass stoves will be located through out and a large central masonry heater fireplace with a significant thermal mass container will be utilized for the main central rooms.
Reversibility – The building is reversible insofar as the site could be restored to its former condition with relative ease. After dismantling the structure most building materials could be removed and disposed of, back to the earth.