Ever thought about designing and building a space for your worker-owned business, intentional community, local co-op market, or any other cooperative organization?
Curious about the intersection between green and natural building, between DIY and professionalism, or between commercial and residential construction and design?
When heirloom seed business Southern Exposure Seed Exchange decided they couldn't wait any longer for a seed office, there was an opportunity for in house worker owners to make this happen. With essentially no experience, a design team of highly idealistic building novices formed with the challenge of designing the most efficient, functional, sustainable, and beautiful building, for both small commercial and residential functions.
To give a little taste of what we learned during the building process, here are some metrics that we adapted and expanded upon to help us make decisions:
Accessibility for diverse populations
Ease of Construction
Skill level required
These metrics can apply to any building and homesteading projects you embark on, but I must forewarn you: They might lead you to quandaries, such as whether or not super-insulated and sealed buildings are worth the upfront material investment or the equipment typically associated with it (which use energy ongoing), or whether an earthen floor or straw bales are appropriate for high-traffic spaces. Or whether these natural building materials work well for commercial applications or for applications where inhabitants of the space are already stretched thin and have a high turnover rate.
If you want to learn more about what systems, materials, and designs we came up with for the Seed Office project, how it’s working out for us thus far, and the lessons we learned along the way, come to my presentation, “Green and Natural Building: A DIY Case Study” at the Albany, Ore., MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR on Saturday, June 6, 2015.
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