“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”
Albert Einstein

Sunday 16 March 2014

My visit to Eco Village

On Sunday I went along to a guided tour of the Eco Village in Currumbin Valley. I wanted to check out what it was all about and see how things where different than any other housing estate. I had heard both good things and not so good things through people so I wanted to go check it out for myself. 

On arrival the Eco Village had a very relaxed feel about it. A cafe welcomed us that was quite busy with both residents and visitors. We met our tour guide and took a seat in a shady area under a big fig tree. He gave us the low down on where the idea of the Eco Village came from and how it all works.

The first thing I noticed about the village was that there where no gutters on the side of the roads, the reason for this is that 1. Its an expensive architectural addition, 2. All rain water is designed to run off to the grass, and 3. They have built the roads to ensure that any excess of water either by rain or flood is washed down into catchment tanks or small gullies and ponds then washed downstream into the Currumbin Valley. This was very clever! Another thing that I noticed was there where only a small amount of fences dividing the houses. I thought this was strange but on closer inspections of the property and the houses its more aesthetically pleasing and is not a worry at all. The land is so spacious!  

All of the rainwater water for each house is kept in separate tanks and there are even specialised fire fighting tanks per house. All houses have solar power which is offset and results in a very small electricity bill and each house has gas as a backup which is known to have a lesser carbon footprint.

A large recycle centre is in the making and also a bed a breakfast. Eco Village has the vision in the future to have its own mall with a baker, various stores and doctors surgery making it more of a community village environment. There are many residents that work from home as hairdressers or architects for the community as well. 

Eco Village has a very strong sense of community, they believe in a sort of "what goes around comes around" philosophy. If someone needs a lawnmower, a baby sitter or a lift to the airport there is an internal online forum where residents can post what they are after or have to swap/sell and someone will quickly be there with a response in an hour or two. They seem to have a strong sense of trust.

The community feel continues as we started to walk around and check it all out. Rather than having huge homes with lots of wasted space they have modest sized homes and large common areas with a pool, meeting hall, commercial kitchen and playgrounds, they even have their own library and large outdoor pizza oven. The community area and the commercial sized kitchen are designed to accommodate visitors as the houses are not that big.

As for the houses, there are no huge slabs that are first laid down to build, only one small one that is used for the garage and another small concrete panel that is used for heating/cooling. This concrete is polished and is seen as a panel of flooring inside the houses. In the summer its cool and in the winter the sun heats it up and keeps you cozy. A lot of architectural magic has been put into the houses. Most houses face the north and no concrete or bricks are used on the east and west sides, this is for both temperature regulation and the breeze. Most windows are not perfectly transparent as they are made from an eco glass that assists with the temps too.

Majority of the materials in each house are recycled, in the house we inspected there were recycled floor boards, rail tracks used in the awnings and recycled tin buckets used outside as outdoor light fittings, most of which are LED. Eco concrete has been used around the village which is made from fly ash which is a material with is left over after the combustion of coal. I was astounded by how green, simple and minimalistic this place was. 

Most houses grow their own food and there is an abundance of chickens too.

Mind you there are some downfalls, there are no dogs or cats allowed as this effects the environment and the wildlife. There are guidelines that are to be followed when building and it is quite expensive to buy a block of land or house at the Eco Village. Body corporate rates a quite high too. Although in turn the levies you pay give you a part share in some of the common property that surrounds a house within a group of other houses. So you have a say in how that land is looked after and what it is used for, which I think is pretty cool.

Check out some pictures of the Eco Village.

The Entrance
The common area and pool
The common area and communal pizza oven
An Eco Village home
An Eco Village Home and Common Area
The Currumbin River that runs through Eco Village

If you get a chance I recommend going and checking it out, it has definitely given me some ideas on minimal houses, eco friendly architecture and ways to open up a sense of community. If only the whole world was like Eco Village.

Stay Simple.

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