Material Visualization of Sustainability

Christine Chastain, UCL

In the 1970s, in the small town of Falmouth, Mass., USA, an experimental, sustainable
community was formed called Alchemy. This project was funded by government grants
and allowed its members to explore such exotic concepts like hydroponic vegetable
growth, composting, contained, sustainable systems, etc. Members were so busy
and engaged that someone forgot to submit a government grant and the community
folded without the necessary financial backing.

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Hilda and Earle bought one of the remaining dilapidated greenhouses from this
project and decided to revive the vision their own way. Both Hilda and Earle
are landscape architects and proud owners of the thriving business, Good Works.
They have managed to create a delectable visual feast of their sustainable lifestyle
aspirations using materials they either create, grow or that are indigenous
to the area of Cape Cod.

First, they rejuvenated the greenhouse itself and added a house onto it. The
home is a modular one, build in an environmental way using recycled and sustainable
materials. The greenhouse not only serves as a winter garden but regulates the
temperature of the home using passive solar means, heats the water that is used
in the home, and grows both koi and fertilizer in a symbiotic relationship in
large water tanks. The fertilizer is then used to enhance the soil in which
the couple grows their gorgeous plants and vegetables. The house also sports
biodegradable toilets and electricity purchased from a windmill – the
waste can be used as fertilizer and whatever electricity goes unused can be
sold back to a community of people supporting alternative power sources.

Earle and Hilda grow much of their own food in a vegetable garden and keep
chickens. They also use materials grown or produced on their land, such as bamboo,
compost and mulch, for use in the creation of their own landscapes and those
of their clients.

Their studio is contained within their home which means they are not commuting
long distances to get to the office and both are very healthy and stress-free
Baby Boomers due to long hours of physical labor, fresh air and organic produce.

While all of this is admirable and to be commended, of almost greater interest
is the way in which they have chosen to visualize their relationship with this
contained ecosystem in an exhibition of self-expression of both private and
public self. At once, this project is a very personal journey but also a showcase
for their professional work to share with potential clients. This couple truly
live to work AND work to live with personalized material visualization of sustainability
within a truly sustainable lifestyle their ultimate goal.

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