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DAVID CARR-SMITH - IMPROVISATION / DESIGN / ART / KITSCH / CHANCE

IMPROVISED 'ECO-VILLAGES'  ... in process  

"PURE GENIUS" ECO VILLAGE, WANDSWORTH, LONDON 

 

 

INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN A'DAM SQUATS & COLLECTIVES
 
IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN  
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS   
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

'CUBIST'-COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA   
ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA  
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART 
KITSCH

DESIGN & CHANCE

 

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OPEN-SITE IMPROVISED VILLAGES

IMPROVISED VILLAGES - p1 - WANDSWORTH 
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - p2 - KEW-BRIDGE

This web-section shows villages improvised on open-sites. These unused areas of partially cleared urban land (often owned by local councils or 'developers') tend to be occupied by people who wish to establish a village of dwellings and communal structures that as far as possible is self-sustaining and minimally wasteful of resources [1]. Developing such sites requires two modes of work: 1 'sculpting' the site: clearing routes, laying minimal services, providing for horticulture, establishing an entry system; 2 working on buildings and facilities [2] that are improvised from scavenged debris and donations of local people. 

After viewing the splendid apartments developed inside Adam's large squatted factories [3] the small homes built on these open waste-ground sites may seem stunted and mean. However the former enjoy primary shelter, avoid most structural demands, usually have in situ services, and within their collectively owned closed volumes can comfortably organise cooperative work plans. In contrast each individual who chooses to live on a patch of open land must solve the urgent primary problem of constructing a weather-shelter and somehow ensuring access to life-supporting services - even if this only means 'camping': raising a bought tent, cooking on a butane-stove, excreting in the bushes. Such rigors contrast with the first stage of factory squats that (in the absence of a comfortable admin office to doss in) provide at least huge flat enclosed concrete floors on which to plant the encampment beginnings of ones home, light wood-stoves, and use the (usually still working) ubiquitous factory toilets and wash facilities. 

Solving open-site living-needs takes much of the energy and resources that in the big factory squats is used for constructing living-space boundaries and elaborating the personal facilities of ones home. 

Both the sites shown here are similar in overall organisation. An open site seems to attract a type of person who stakes a claim to an independent patch of available land. The social rule of widest possible separation of strangers in any visibly limited place (eg bus/cafe/waiting-room) seems to apply to the disposition of dwellings on these open sites - its as if the opportunity to 'own' a patch of land is latent in each urbanite. At the earliest stage (ref p2: Kew Eco Village) tents are scattered over the available area and subsequent built houses and shared buildings and facilities tend to be separated independent structures (ref below: Wandsworth Eco-Village).
 
The 'apartment building' model that pertains inside the big factory squats [3] shows this spatial independence traded for the security of an enclosing/shared container divided into living-spaces separated simply by single walls, whose pattern reveals the ease and economy of sub-dividing a rectangular building. The group cooperation that is taken for granted during the 'growing phase' of these large enclosed eventually densely-occupied developments, could be applied to a type of open-site village whose living places were grouped (even joined) with the shared buildings/facilities and the whole complex (or at least its basic structures) was worked on collectively. This physically much more efficient use of energy and resources would result in a 'centre' surrounded by 'land' where cultivation experiments would be unencumbered by a web of arbitrary pathways [4]. Might such an establishment be also more defensible ?

NOTES :

  1. The effort of overcoming adverse external conditions however usually ensures that immediate practicality overwhelms ... and this can indeed be mistaken for ideological practice !

  2. A 'central' social/kitchen building / toilets and wash facilities / visitor-reception office / store-area / garden.

  3. Ref the previous website IMPROVISED ARCHITECTURE IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS.

  4. Any apparent 'village plan' is less an imposed system than an ad hoc web of 'automatically' established connecting routes between the focii of isolated structures that were themselves located via the un-analysable calculations and ruminations of individuals.

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"PURE GENIUS" ECO VILLAGE (5-05-1996 to 15-10-1996) 
GARGOYLE WHARF, YORK RD x BRIDGEND RD., WANDSWORTH, LONDON  
[
info on the site is at
Chrome : pure-genius-wandsworth-eco-village ]

The "Pure Genius" Eco-Village was originated on an urban 13 acre walled site of ex-industrial polluted 'wasteland' owned by Guinness. Its occupiers aimed to originate, demonstrate, and enjoy a community that was as far as possible self-sustaining in terms of housing and communal services. They set up systems of permaculture that would recycle organic waste, increase the land's fertility and/or circumvent its damage, and which were intended to provide a significant proportion of their food. The most resourceful built dwellings for themselves from scrap materials [1] and cooperated in building and developing a communal 'roundhouse' or 'village-hall'. After only five months the project and its natural environment were stupidly and wastefully [2] destroyed by the land's legal owners. 

NOTES :

  1. Bill Knight remarked that: 'There are only six habitable buildings built on site, the rest are trailers etc'.

  2. 'stupidly and wastefully' - because it was subsequently left empty (even of plants and creatures: stripped to its soil !) for ## months before its (financial) 're-development' ensued - during which time this valuable and rare social, practical, aesthetic experiment could have been allowed - for the experiential needs of us all ! - to continue its unpredictable and informative evolution.

.

THE SITE AND SHARED FACILITIES

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: NEAR ENTRY - RUBBLE MAZE
(pic 14-10-96 / to
##)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: NEAR ENTRY - RUBBLE 'DRAGON' 
(pic 8-6-96 / to
NNE)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: BLACKSMITH WORKSITE
(pic 6-6-96 / to NNW)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: WASH-PLACE 'PERMACULTURE' GARDEN
(pic 6-6-96 / to
EEN)

Also intended to demonstrate 'permaculture' to site visitors.

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: WASH-PLACE (PART OF A 'PERMACULTURE' SYSTEM)
(pic 6-6-96 / to NW)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: TOILET BACK
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to
EES)

The two site toilets 'manufactured' agricultural compost.

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: TOILET ENTRY
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to W)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: TOILET INTERIOR
(pic between
between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to SW)

ECO-VILLAGE SITE: RIVER-WALL MOSAIC
(pic 8-6-96 / to NW)

Made by an anonymous visitor. 

ECO-VILLAGE SITE
(pic 20-7-96 / to
EEN)

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING - STRUCTURAL DESIGN: BILL KNIGHT
(pic 20-7-96 / to
SE)

Designed principally by Bill Knight, a civil engineer, with the input of other site-users. Its wood structure's strength was calculated by AutoCAD.

['Roundhouse' extracts below are from Bill Knight's account of the whole site: http://www.tlio.org.uk/campaigns/wandsworth/purebill.html ]

We needed to build a big structure as a focus for the village. It was agreed to build a round house to take two hundred people. A simple sketch and a little thought and I had a list of timber sizes and lengths we were looking for and fixings we would need to hold it together safely. The building had to be flexible and able to be erected on hard or soft land as we still didn't know were we were going. 

[Paragraph removed ....]

The wood for the roundhouse was finally located, Brendan had been bringing in bits from a mysterious source but there wasn't enough. Then on a bus up the A40 I spotted it, a huge pile from the demolition of the houses to widen the road. A quick visit from Jacqueline and I, some negotiations with the contractors and we had a truck load delivered to our storage space.

[Paragraphs removed ....]

[On the site ....] Unloading over, there was a little time before the meeting to find a place for the roundhouse. [....] Meantime Steve, Gary and I found our spot. It was large enough for the roundhouse and left space all around for an outer circle of homes. There was a space to the west which was grassy and raised up perfect for watching a play or band in the roundhouse. I guestimated where the centre pole should go and scratched a cross in the ground.

[Paragraph removed ....]

Back at the roundhouse site we began to dig the hole for the central post, the only bit which needed to go into the ground. Amazingly we had picked a point between two huge chunks of concrete a foot from each other with another piece about four foot down making the perfect foundation. Soon the post was up and by the end of the day the central section of the building was nearing completion. Steve and I spent much of the next three days working with a small group to get the rest of the frame up. Plywood was cut and nailed on the central roof and a tarpaulin formed temporary walls. Old light fittings found in Ken's van were nailed to four of the eight posts and filled w ith candles. As the sun set over Wandsworth bridge directly in front of the one open side it cast a golden light into the building. To me it took on the air of a temple, peaceful and calm with people sitting happily talking up plans for the rest of the site, playing music and reading poetry.

[Paragraphs removed ....]

I returned on Saturday lunch time to find a transformation. The wind generator span on the roof of the roundhouse above solar panels, the walls were finished, thin branches formed patterns in the windows and more candle holders made from reclaimed copper pipe spiralled around the central post. Gardens were full of plants and seedlings had already begun to sprout. The irrigation system for the gardens was working. Locals wandered around the site and a party spirit was building up. That evening was the high point of the occupation for me. The efforts of so many different people had come together and created a truly unique place in the heart of a city. Bands played late into the night as two hundred people danced inside the roundhouse.

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING 
(pic 8-6-96 / to
E)

 

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING: INTERIOR
(pic 6-6-96 / to
NE)

Steve Jones notes: 

We built the roundhouse based on a central 'king post' with lateral rafters to posts forming a 6 sided structure. This was further extended out and clad in salvaged cladding found on site. We waterproofed the structure using discarded plastic 'For Sale' signs. A nice irony!

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING: INTERIOR
(pic 6-6-96 / to
NE)

The big open 'porch' has been closed with plastic sheeting.

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING: INTERIOR - STOVE
(pic 6-6-96 / to
EES)

The stove is a fire-brick box clamped between two halves of an oil-drum. On the wall behind are lists of "Suggested Guidelines" for maintaining the "project": dealing with the site, its inhabitants and visitors, external authorities, etc..

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING & ITS ADDED ENCLOSURES
(pic 8-6-96 / to
NNE)

The white yurt was for food storage(?) and the blue canvas(?) enclosure for food preparation.

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING'S ADDED ENCLOSURES
(pic 8-6-96 / to
E
EEN)

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING'S ADDED ENCLOSURES
(pic 6-6-96 / to
E
EEN)

ECO-VILLAGE: FOOD PREPARATION  ENCLOSURE
(pic 6-6-96 / to
EEN)

ECO-VILLAGE: COMMUNAL BUILDING & ITS ADDED ENCLOSURES 
(pic 14-10-96 / to NE)

By this time, the plastic-sheeted enclosures - whose harmonious shapes and dispositions expressed the ecology of expanding possibilities and needs - have been replaced by a 'shed' whose mean and inelegant awkwardness (probably) expresses a hasty response to a degenerative/diminishing factor: food thieves! ... a vector of defense and depression opposed to that which formed the physical means of opening potentials.

.

INDIVIDUAL HOMES

(JOE ?) WOMAN'S LIVING-PLACE
(pic 14-10-96 / to
SE)

The functional parts of this living-place are separated. An arch defines the 'camp's' entry; the blue plastic-covered bender is for sleeping; the open shelter (with an "at work" sign) is a kitchen.

(JOE ?) WOMAN'S LIVING-PLACE: BENDER ENTRY
(pic 14-10-96 / to NE)

(JOE ?) WOMAN'S LIVING-PLACE: 'WOMAN AT WORK' SIGN
(pic 14-10-96 / to
SE)

ANJA BRINKMANN & SIMON CHAPMAN YURT GARDEN
(pic 14-10-96 / to NW)

ANJA BRINKMANN & SIMON CHAPMAN YURT GARDEN
(pic 14-10-96 / to
N)

ANJA BRINKMANN & SIMON CHAPMAN YURT GARDEN 
(pic 6-6-96 / to N)

ANJA BRINKMANN: SIMON CHAPMAN WHEEL-BARROW SEAT 
(pic 6-6-96 / to SW)

ANJA BRINKMANN YURT INTERIOR
(pics 6-6-96 / to SSW)

ANJA BRINKMANN YURT INTERIOR
(pics 6-6-96 / to SSW)

(UNKNOWN) WOMAN'S HOUSE 
(pic 14-10-96 / to
SE)

GREEN DAVE 'ECO-HOUSE' "NEMESIS" 
(pic 6-6-96 / to
WWS)

[The following account by Green Dave of his self-made house is copied from http://www.tlio.org.uk/campaigns/wandsworth/puredave.html ]

Live the Future Now!
Green Dave

My Eco­House, Nemesis, was designed from start to finish to maximise energy efficiency. The south facing side was high and made almost entirely from glass, with a conservatory to store/trap heat. The north was low to the ground to minimise heat loss from cold northerly winds. The whole structure was built on a rectangular chassis base raised approx. 6" above ground to accommodate under the house (this prevents poisonous gas building up in the house, especially necessary in areas of high contamination or where there is a risk of radon gas; radon gas is a naturally occurring gas that is emitted through the ground from granite rock.) The ground clearance and rigid base structure was also designed to enable the whole unit to be moved in one piece if desired.

To have insulation filled cavity walls and a turfed roof helps moderate extreme temperatures and provides extra food growing space and wildlife habitat, blends house into the natural environment. The side walls were to be covered with vines for the same reasons as the turfed roof, vines would be grown in pots attached to the structure, so would be moved with the house without disturbance.

Plumbing
Rainwater to be collected from the long sloping roof, filtered and separated into two parts. One part to be gravity fed into the conservatory irrigation system (
gray/used water would also be fed into the irrigation system), the other part to be gravity fed via passive solar panels on the roof, (and then into a wood burning water boiler for winter use), to the shower unit and other washing facilities.

Electricity
I was undecided about electricity (not very 'green') but a wind generator could be mounted on the opposite corner of the roof to the flag (see picture) providing 12v or 240v ac or dc.
All materials for this home were reclaimed.

 

GREEN DAVE 'ECO-HOUSE' "NEMESIS" 
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to
SW)

GREEN DAVE 'ECO- HOUSE' "NEMESIS"  
(pic 20-7-96 / to NE)

 

GREEN DAVE 'ECO- HOUSE' "NEMESIS"  
(pic 14-10-96 / to NW)

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE (FRAME)
(pic 6-6-96 / to W)

[Brenden's account of his experience of the occupation is at  http://www.tlio.org.uk/campaigns/wandsworth/purebren.html ]

The house is an octagon based on a 6' module: centre square = 6' / from square to corners = 6'. 

Brenden said he was influenced by an American Indian hut.

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to
SE)

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE: GROUND-LEVEL SPACE & BED PLATFORM
(paste-up 2-pics 14-10-96 / to #)

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE: BED PLATFORM
(pic 14-10-96 / to #)

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE: GROUND-LEVEL SPACE 
(pic 14-10-96 / to #)

BRENDEN ROCK HOUSE: GROUND-LEVEL SPACE - STOVE
(pic 14-10-96 / to #)

MIKE TULL HOUSE-SITE: JETTY INSTALLATION
(pic 8-6-96 / to SSW)

MIKE TULL HOUSE: RIVER FACE
(pic 8-6 / to SSE )

MIKE TULL HOUSE
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to W)

MIKE TULL HOUSE
(pic between 8-6 & 20-7-96 / to W)

MIKE TULL HOUSE INTERIOR 
(pic 6-6-96 / to SW)

MIKE TULL HOUSE INTERIOR: CORNER VIEW OF BEACH
(pic 6-6-96 / to SW)

CORIN JETTY HOUSE
(paste-up 2 pics 20-7-96 / to NE)

The beginning of a house construction.

The banner reads "Land and Freedom".

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INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN A'DAM SQUATS & COLLECTIVES
 
IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE  
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN
  
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS 
 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

'CUBIST'-COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 
ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC

ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA  

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART 
KITSCH

DESIGN & CHANCE