In the third year module Contemporary Environmental Challenges, part of what we study is eco-housing and eco-communities. These are usually grassroot level creations, which reject mainstream housing and instead look to create a home environment that is environmentally friendly, self-sustainable and if in a community, has shared resources and values. These can range hugely in scale, aesthetics and affordability – from temporary squatter communities, to normal-looking built up community properties in urban areas, to glamorous high-tech eco-mansions, to handbuilt affordable low-consumption homes. If want to see my favourite version of the latter, here’s a video from one of my favourite YouTube channels – Living Big in a Tiny House.
Anyhow, as part of the module we went on a 1-morning field trip to the famous Hockerton Housing Project in Nottinghamshire – 5 houses set on 22 acres of land. As well as growing 70% of their food (from a garden plot, livestock, carp in the reservoir and an orchard) the project is also highly energy efficient – with solar panels, wind turbines, and highly insulated homes which utilise natural light that eliminates the need for heating systems. They also create their own tap water and process their own waste through a reed-filtration system. Although I had done some research on the project already, seeing it in person really brought the technologies and processes I had learnt about to life. It was also hugely informative to talk to the residents and ask them all my questions! We arrived at about 9:30am and received a great tour of the site and interior of the houses. Here’s a few pictures from the morning.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the field trip, and I hope you are inspired to go and find out more about eco-communities. They provide a unique solution to the housing crisis – as affordable and sustainable developments. Whilst projects like this one use up a lot of land to house only 5 families, the concepts used in this project can be applied in all shapes and forms, in order to provide housing for more people on less land. Unfortunately the UK government has been quite resistant so far – planning permission is difficult to obtain and many communities have to get planning permission retrospectively i.e. after they have built, which is very stressful and time-consuming. The government are also heavily invested in enabling private companies to build new housing, which is easier to manage/regulate and offers returns, as opposed lots of local people building their own. Thanks for reading!