We have a problem. As the population nears the 10 million person mark, the accessibility of clean water, healthy food sources, and arable land diminishes, as well as the effect that overpopulation has on the environment are quickly becoming urgent global issues. Enter: ReGen Villages.ReGen Villages are a new design for self-sustaining neighborhoods made up of power positive homes, high yield organic food production, renewable energy sources, water management, and waste to resource systems that have the potential to change the way the aspiring class lives and interacts with the environment. James Ehrlich, a California-based entrepreneur and CEO of ReGen Villages, has partnered with EFFEKT, a Danish Architecture firm, on the design of the self-sufficient communities. After presenting the first version of the villages as the centerpiece of the Danish architectural pavilion for the upcoming Venice Biennale in May of 2016, the company plans to start construction on the first village outside of Almere, Netherlands, this summer. They will start with 25 pilot homes before tackling the first complete 100 home village. But how does it work? EFFEKT partner, Sinus Lynge, explains:
The technology already exists, it is just a matter of applying science into the architecture of everyday life.The neighborhoods would consist of a series of buildings that would allow families to grow fruits and vegetables, raise livestock, produce and store clean water, and convert waste to resources. By harnessing the most advanced methods for growing food, the villages will yield a significantly larger crop than traditional farms of the same size, with fewer resources. Indoor gardens will be combined with seasonal outdoor gardens to maintain year round crops. A complex combination of aeroponics, aquaponics, permaculture, and food forests will maximize food production and efficiency. For example, aquaponics, a system in which the waste produced by farmed aquatic life supplies nutrients for plants which in turn purify the water, can produce 10 times as much produce on the same amount of land with 90% less water. Ehrlich says:
We anticipate literally tons of abundant organic food every year—from vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, small animal dairy and protein—that can continually grow and yield in the vertical garden systems all year long as supplement to the seasonal gardens and farming adjacent.He also explains the use of geothermal, solar, solar thermal, wind, and biomass technologies to produce energy off the grid:
We're looking at some very interesting technologies for small-footprint biomass that can take surrounding farm waste and turn that into a consistent energy source in a way that can power these communities in northern Europe even in the dead of winter.A smart grid will distribute power efficiently, including a carport to charge shared electric cars. A biogas plant will turn any non-compostable household waste into power and water while a water storage system will collect rainwater and greywater and redistribute it to seasonal gardens and the aquaponic system. Houses would combine photovoltaic solar panels to generate power and heat water. They would also utilize passive heating and cooling systems as well as natural ventilation, helping to keep electrical demand low.
Though initially starting in the Netherlands, Ehrlich and ReGen plan to expand around the world:
We're really looking at a global scale. We are redefining residential real-estate development by creating these regenerative neighborhoods, looking at first these greenfield pieces of farmland where we can produce more organic food, more clean water, more clean energy, and mitigate more waste than if we just left that land to grow organic food or do permaculture there.
We tackle the first two hardest climate areas...Then from there we have global scale—rural India, sub-Saharan Africa, where we know that the population is going to increase and also be moving to the middle class. If everybody in India and Africa wants the same kind of suburbs that we've been building so far, the planet's not going to make it.They plan on raising funds through state investment, particularly in countries looking to move away from fossil fuels. The company will work with local municipalities to find suitable land, then appoint local architect and construction teams to develop the infrastructure. The ReGen Village in Almere will break ground this summer and be completed in 2017. H/T Co-Exist, Dezeen, ReGen Villages