Living in Beta

A space that sustains

I love my room – created by different contributors and guests, it evolves over time, a co-creation without plan, guided by each contributors need and sense of taste. Everything is recycled or second hand, apart from the wall screws and the sanding of the floorboards, no money was needed in it’s creation – only time and love.

It’s a space where I feel comfortable – maybe too comfortable as I spent most of the summer in a hammock suspended between the living pod and the guest pod.

Now I face loosing it, I’m confronted with the question of how it could be better. Every disaster is an opportunity. I would have to fight to keep it, to indulge in neighborly politics – something I abhor, and most likely further prejudice some who I believe already judge me unfavorably if I were to succeed (I maybe mistaken in which case I apologise, I can only work with smiles or frowns due to language limitations). I am also reluctant to “hijack” the work of others who have taken years to build their own community. I have told them I will not stand in the way of their desires for their children and I will stand by this.

My expectation is that I will need to leave, I accept this and bear no grudges.

So instead I will write here about my own desires for a space to build, both community and living space. It will probably not be appropriate to do it in this apartment in the long term, although it may prove yet to be a good place to prototype (or maybe the rooftop).

Since these are experiments in living, they should be adaptable to anywhere, but I need to be clear about my objectives and expectations. I must feel free to do things my way.

I want to live in a space that sustains myself and others, physically, emotionally and intellectually. More than that a space we can grow in. A truly successful living space should allow us to transcend the need to work in it’s entirety, providing for our needs, as we provide for it, a closed loop ecosystem growing evermore joyful, resilient and abundant.

Over the summer I have had numerous conversations with friends about this idea. They have also reflected on it. It is an idea who’s time has come. The process of evaluating what is important, and what sustains us had led to some crazy insights.

There are now many emerging spaces of this kind (,, There are even networks for such spaces. Such spaces often have a strong focus on changing the world through entrepreneurship. I have even lived for 6 weeks in such a space. Certainly such shared value sets are critical, however I wish to tweak the format. For me I want to first create a pattern of living that makes the necessity to work hard obsolete. Work is merely a solution a means to money, which can be exchanged for things that contribute to quality of life. I’m for cutting out the middle men. To change the world we must first re-evaluate how to live well and be as free as we can from the influences of the existing system. We have to look at what really sustains us, our “work” should be towards maintaining and growing such ecosystems. I want to work on my life.

For the experiments I wish to conduct, I’m not looking for some “back to the land” sustenance existence. I want to live in a place you look at and go “fuck me, that looks like a good way to live!”. At the same time it should consider the impact of replication – ie. could everyone actually live like that (do we possess the global resources). I want to tap into my own selfish desires to facilitate the building of something socially responsible.

I want to live in a place where our food grows on the kitchen walls – so fresh you don’t need a fridge. When we wash, the water feeds the plants, maybe we dine on leaves and washing up is likewise a thing of the past. The floor is moss, fed by our detritus and dead skin, soft underfoot and connecting us to the ground. The drudge of the broom is gone. These spaces are shared, the only private space required a small sound proof nest where you can express your mutual joy or private pain without disturbing others (AKA a space to sleep, scream, enjoy silence, or fuck like monkeys).

Some in Berlin are already experimenting ( the former living from one apartment in the summer, the later in the winter, infarm produced “more food than they could eat”.

But this would be a marriage of organisms and technology – I want to power lights and the internet with my shit, and to interact with it (the internet not my shit ;)) without screens and desktop slavery.

The living space as ecosystem model raises your awareness of the chemicals in your life, you cannot mindlessly poison yourself or your environment. Many of life’s labors and points of conflict can be removed through natural processes of flow, reuse and replenishment.

I want to question everything through action. To live in a shared common ecosystem rather than a man made cave.

The Basic requirements for this are:

Secure Land
To be able to build, one must be on stable ground, a place that cannot be taken. Therefore either rent protected, secured tenancy or better still a space we own is required.

A good open community is fluid and transient, it is changing and learning, it must be open to those from outside to stay, to engage and to contribute. That doesn’t mean it needs to be open to the public, but it should welcome guests. The diagram below, highlights for me what is important about an open space. You can’t just walk straight in, you have an initial point of engagement, as you grow your understanding you are welcomed into more personal and private spaces. We are free to choose which spaces we inhabit. When we feel private there should be space to do so, but when in shared space we should feel comfortable to bring in friends and potential friends.

Action over discussion (do-ocracy)
Do the right thing by others, everything is a prototype, improve upon rather than destroy. Recognise where spaces are shared that we have both rights and responsibilities. But this is an experiment in living, so we learn by trying new things, not by talking about them. Share visions and build together. This is a place for you to grow and develop, not a space to remain the same.

Access to Water, Access to the Sky (Wind, and Sun)

Good people
I use this in terms not just of of goodness of intent, but in terms of quality. People who are able to do, to build as well as dream and to put love and care into whatever they do, goodness of spirit manifests itself in labor, not only in vision. Ultimately this should be more open, but to begin with we need those who can implement and contribute as well as dream.

Many of you will think i’m crazy, others will have their own ideas to add to the mix. Please add your ideas and contributions in the comments, and lets see where this leads next summer.

If you know of a place where we can start, please let me know or add to the hackpad ———————————————————————————————–

Thanks to all who have joined me in the discussions that shape this, I hope you will also join in it’s creation.


6 thoughts on “A space that sustains”

  1. Great project ! I have been thinking about doing something like this for a long time and here are few comments:

    I guess you have already heard about permaculture. if not you should learn about it: there are lots of principles & techniques to integrate architecture, agriculture and human needs.

    Placemaking is also another useful concept I stumbled upon recently:

    although it’s mostly about public space design, the same principles can apply to your space.

    Btw, I’m building a list of co-creative places like Unmonastery & the other you mentioned, you might be interested to check it out:


    1. Awesome, thanks Lilian. Familiar with permaculture, certainly a part of my thought processes along with cradle to cradle and ghia theory – although working on very small loops. Sadly got a 404 on spreadsheet, will try to look again later


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