A new community in the Netherlands will harness the latest technologies to create a closed-loop system that will produce its own solar and biogas power, grow organic vegetables, farm fish and chickens, harvest water, and recycle waste into fertilizer.
“If you look at any long-lasting eco-village, it has usually been about religion, polyamory or drugs,” says James Ehrlich, president of Netherlands-based ReGen Villages.
Ehrlich wants to build sustainable communities for the 21st century. “Traditional eco-village people wait for 50 years for that one tree to fall so they can build their community center. I don’t think the planet has the time to wait. We have to build off-grid neighborhoods around the world as quickly as we can, and as many as we can.”
According to The Guardian, since ReGen Villages and architectural partners EFFEKT revealed plans for their modern eco-village at the Venice Biennale at the end of May, they have seen a “firestorm” of viral activity and received 6,500 emails expressing interest in the project.
“What they are saying is: ‘We want in desperately: this is our dream,’” says California-based Ehrlich.
Anarchist Danish Eco-village Sibling
The Dutch eco-village pilot project is not the first self-contained community. Anarchist residents of Copenhagen’s Freetown Christiania, the eco-village on 80 acres of prime property in the center of Copenhagen, have been living this way ever since 1971 when a group of squatters took over a former military barracks and created a “green” community before most of the world knew what that meant.
As they have for over 45 years, Christiana’s residents use composting toilets connected to individual organic water-treatment systems, run their homes on solar power, and aim to reuse 100% of the community’s waste. The area is a car-free zone that boasts a relatively lucrative cottage industry in bicycles. As the Danish government does not want to recognize the community as a legitimate one, there are no zoning restrictions. As a result, the community boasts many experimental homes constructed from a variety of re-used materials, from makeshift huts to elaborate constructions with green roofs, round and geometrical houses, and even one shaped like a spaceship.
Part of Christiana’s futuristic green plan, known as the Green Wave, involved building homes inspired by traditional Icelandic houses, green domes or barrel vaults made of concrete, insulated and covered with earth and grass.
The Danish government has imposed laws restricting the construction of new dwellings, but residents may replace existing roofs– inspiring one resident to make his way around the no-building law by building a house that is nothing but a roof (the rest of the house is underground.)
“For thousands of years human societies have lived in the worlds of plants and animals,” states the Christiana Green Wave Plan manifesto. “We must make a network between our work and the wild nature. Children like to live in and have access to the nature. Grownups like to live in and have access to both nature and culture. Nature and culture are a part of the future town.”
Perhaps ReGen Villages will join Christiana to become another worldwide symbol of alternative sustainable living. Thoughts?
ReGen photos via ReGen. Christiana photos via Freetown Christiana. h/t The Guardian.