The earth has a heartbeat, can you hear it? It pulsates beneath our feet, providing nurture, life, a sacred home for our cosmic souls to reside. The earth is our home and it is time to honour her. If we were to display our world, our homes, our ways of being to our ancient ancestors, chances are it would be unrecognisable. Our food is ridden with pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or grown in soil that has been stripped of its vital nutrients. Pollution levels are higher than ever, fumes from emissions and fuels permeate the natural air that constitutes our breath and gives us life. Refuse and waste pollute our rivers and oceans, threatening our natural kingdoms and destroying the pristine beauty that has made our planet iconic. And lastly, the one factor that many of us have become immune to overtime, is the concrete jungles that make up our daily living spaces. Cement, steel and tar creep over fields, valleys and open spaces. The greatest irony is that, as we lay waste our natural environments, in the end it is not the planet that will struggle; our earth knows how to evolve and shift accordingly and life will flow with her. From organism to cell to being, life will emerge again. It is our very ways of being that need to change for our own survival needs to remain fulfilled. We are on the brink of an internal revolution, which will be reflected in an exterior alteration of how we arrange and structure our world – or rather, the world that we are fortunate enough to be a part of.
This year alone has shown us that things need to change. From the thoughts we think, to the food we eat, to our economic structures and education systems. Shifts are needed and they are coming. One such way to alter our existence is through the structures we live in and ways in which we live our lives. After travelling to Bali, I was amazed, enchanted even, to see the ways in which the natural kingdoms were used to build up small villages that existed as a part of nature. Walls bent to make way for trees that had been there for years, family areas were built in an open manner with blinds to keep out the sun or wind if necessary. There was one thing that each structure had, which seemed to be missing in contemporary urban concrete structures – the buildings flowed in Feng Shui sacred designs. The people seemed happier, healthier, kinder and more compassionate towards those around them. When at home, the stars could be enjoyed from the comfort of a lounge suite, fireflies could be seen in the jungle overlooking the rice fields, the falling of the rain could be enjoyed without having to sit behind a glass window. One thing became clear, greener methods of building that are constructed through conscious thought, meticulous design and refined artistry had an effect on the unconscious, and even conscious mind. Perhaps the one thing our hearts long for is structures that flow in harmony with nature, that encapsulate the natural beauty of our incredible world and that integrate the human being back into the natural order of the world.
What is Green Living?
Green Living is a practice that comes from living in harmony with the earth. One such way to do so is to practise natural building. Natural building materials are considered abundantly available in local environments; they are also often reused, renewable or recycled. Examples of common natural building materials include sand, clay, wood, earth, straw, bamboo and stone.
Natural building materials have been around since the creation of the earth itself. On the whole, natural materials require less energy for their production. The use of locally abundant materials results in the least disruption to one’s natural surroundings. Adobe (clay, sand and water) has good thermal mass, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. Other sustainable building techniques are also usually applied when constructing natural homes to ensure adequate insulation. Overall there has been an increase in the construction of earth homes, domes within the earth, wooden cabins and bamboo structures.
Bali is one area of the world in which visions for sustainable living are brought to life. One such example is Green Village. Green Village was originally envisioned and developed by John Hardy. Located on the slopes of the Agung River in Bali, it is a living community of globally connected individuals who care about nature. The space consists of unique and sustainable bamboo houses that are hand-constructed by the IBUKU architectural team. This international team is comprised of skilled artisans, architects, engineers and designers. Together they work to create homes, structures, and interiors out of bamboo and other natural materials. Together the team works to conceptualise, design and build structures that utilise the flow of energy that exists within the natural world around them.
The village has attracted nature lovers, celebrities and entrepreneurs from all over the world. The compound is in close proximity to the world famous campus, Green School, where education is designed around the principles of an organic permaculture system. Bamboo has been utilised as the primary building material, owing to the fact that it is one of the world’s most sustainable and versatile building materials with strength equivalent to steel. Bamboo is ready to be used as building material when it reaches the age of 3-5 years. When the bamboo is chosen well, treated properly, designed mindfully and maintained, bamboo houses will last a lifetime. In addition to bamboo, many Balinese dwellings incorporate Indonesian Black Lavastone or clay for pools, ornaments, bathtubs and walling. If the visual impact isn’t enough to stir your interest, why not visit one of these natural places and feel the magic for yourself.