Theater of Cruelty

Self-sufficient, financially sustainable community with low cost of living

Ecovillages around the world: 20 regenerative designs for sustainable communities
Forfatter: Frederica Miller,
Forlag: 2018 Ecolit Books, (USA)
ECOVILLAGE / Communal house, own organic farming, a professionally run livestock farm, various network models in permaculture and economics.


In step with an increasingly developed materialism with economic growth, all parts of the world have developed alternative ways of adapting to «everyday life». Club of Rome wrote Limits to growth 50 years ago, when the UN's first conference on the environment, the Stockholm Conference, also took place. An opposition to the mainstream took shape in the germ of the establishment of eco-communities and eco-villages.

For inspiration, editor Frederica Miller has now gathered a diversity of different models for eco-communities / eco-villages, established with different prerequisites and priorities, but all with a desire for a world of sustainability.

Permatopia Karise

For example, the village community is mentioned Permatopia Karise. With influence from 2018 – they have realized a resident-driven visionary project. Here, the planners and the residents have managed to combine shared living, biodynamic agriculture and the production of renewable energy in a living community. It has happened within the framework of a developed circular resource economy, which will become a self-sufficient, economically sustainable community with low living costs. In total, the village community's physical land area is half a square kilometre.

Following the principle "community before building", since 2014 the Permatopia association has held a number of workshops (- on the decision-making process and the social organisation, the central heating system, learning processes etc. – together with experts. A project manager – the architect – has been responsible for coordination, layout, design and influence.

Karise Permatopia – located in Faxe Municipality, south of Copenhagen – has, in an extensive preparatory work, converted experiences from previous community projects all over the world into the new living community. From the start, they wanted to prioritize being able to offer both renting, owning their home, or living on a cooperative basis. There is a communal house, own organic farming, a professionally run livestock farm, various network models within permaculture and economics. Everything is tied together in such a way that thoughts are directed towards an off-grid system – a coherent system outside the established institutional infrastructure. However, due to the legislation, Karise Permatopia is – to a modest extent – connected to the municipal renovation and waste water solution.

A car-sharing scheme with cheap electricity from the local windmill.

Karise Permatopias has a communal house in the farm that was originally located on the site. Here you will also find a laundry room, shop, café and administration. A car-sharing scheme with cheap electricity from the local windmill contributes to the residents' sustainable mobility.

Karise Overview

Ecological standards

The village community comprises a total of 90 houses, which are divided into eight groups. There are five house types, which vary from two- to six-room apartments. The communal house, the farm, the infrastructure and the shared car system are included as four separate parts, where all households own a share. 44 of the homes are public and form part of Sydkysten's Boligselskab, which is part of Copenhagen's Almene Boligselskab.

The furnishings of the homes have followed ecological standards with as much daylight as possible, good – outdoor and indoor – room designs, environmentally friendly materials, low energy solutions, with a minimum of maintenance, and low pricing as a result of rational planning.

Collected and purified rainwater covers the need for laundry, watering and toilet visits.

The technical infrastructure is based on a sustainable well-tested and non-demanding maintenance. The water supply is secured from a nearby waterworks, but collected and purified rainwater covers the need for laundry, watering and toilet visits. Therefore, the price for water consumption can be reduced by a third.

Space heating and electricity

All apartments have separation toilets, which reduce water consumption. The gray and black waste water is discharged to a closed willow treatment plant. The urine from the separation toilet, composted willow and organic kitchen waste are converted into fertilizer on the fields. Therefore, additional animal manure or other additives will not be necessary. Waste separation into different fractions, composting and recycling will reduce the need for renovation.

Fast internet connection via IP phones and TV via fibre-optics.

Karise Permatopia has a central heating system for space heating, and hot water with 9 km of underground pipes and heat pumps drives the electricity from a 47 meter high wind generator. A central hot water tank has sufficient capacity to also supply space heating, even during periods when there is no wind. Electricity comes from the same wind generator and the need for electricity is reduced by energy-saving lighting, by choosing equipment and household appliances. The shared facilities, shared dining and shared laundry further manage to reduce energy consumption. Karise Permatopia has also equipped itself with a fast internet connection via IP phones and TV via fibre-optics.

The farm is run by organic farmers well versed in permaculture and with a few hours of joint weekly work for the residents. This makes the place self-sufficient with sustainable food for approx. half the price.

Various kinds of fruits and vegetables are available, partly based on greenhouses. In a few years, the residents expect that there will be a surplus for sale or exchange. The greenhouse receives waste heat from the site's central heating system and uses CO2 from composting processes to increase plant growth. The various phases in agriculture take place without the use of fossil fuels and are also powered by electric machines, which allows for intensive and profitable production.

In the long run, Haven will supply almost all the fruit, nuts and berries that are needed. More than 200 hens will ensure the residents so many eggs that they will be able to be sold from the farm shop. 500 chickens and a few pigs will cover the need for meat. The animals will form an integral part of the farm's operation.

On the site live approx. 140 adults and 60 children, so the place accommodates many families with children. But it is not least thanks to "the gray gold" that the place's many ecological activities are connected as a whole. Karise Permatopia thus brings to life in everyday life – via its "infrastructure" – an ecological way of life.

I also recommend an article by Mikkel Klinge, the pioneer behind Karise Permatopia, on the internet.

Global Goal 11: "Sustainable cities and local communities"

In 2023, Copenhagen will hold the UNESCO title of "World Capital of Architecturec" with the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress in the city as the highlight. A large number of architects and planners are then expected to apply to Copenhagen to focus on "Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind" and the UN's World Goals. Copenhagen has received a lot of attention in recent years because of a democratic tradition, which in the broadest sense has been sought to be reflected in the city's architecture. In 2023, the organizers here intend to find a place for a dialogue about the world goals globally and locally. World Goal 11 "Sustainable cities and local communities" is about making cities, local communities and settlements inclusive, safe, robust and sustainable. In a 35.000 m2 prestige project located in Ørestad Syd – UN17 Village – the real estate company NREP has won a vision competition, the purpose of which is to show the industry how the global goals can be implemented in a local community in the city. In the implementation of the above-mentioned UNESCO and NREP projects, the city of Copenhagen will be supported by a number of authorities, institutions and financial partners. Co-Creating Community The interest in new types of communities is thus striking in Denmark. This also applies when the projects are directly citizen-driven. Already in 2022, the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) is thus gathering its researchers to gain increased insight into intentional communities under the conference theme: Co-Creating Community (Audonicon, Skanderborg). The intention is to examine how "intentional communities continuously develop in relation to each other, to the larger culture and to the political and ecological challenges of our time". Here, various historical and context-dependent communities will present themselves for academic exchange. It could be about the cooperatives (with a background in the labor movement); Shaker communities and Kibbutz (religion); Camphill villages (involving people with special needs); Buen Vivir (bio-civilisation as a characteristic); and Eco-villages (organized in GEN (Global Ecological Network). Most communities are curiously investigating further developments in the field of theory and practice. Architecture, renewable energy, gardening, local food production, cradle to cradle businesses, shared facilities, social structure and local economy appears in these communities as a more or less integrated whole.Specifically, European Eco-villages will also hold a gathering (Ananda Gaorii's Ashram) in the summer of 2022, where the focus will be on the regenerative development path.
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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