The goal of the open source Tropical Atrium is to create an aesthetically pleasing and multi-functional center for the Earthbag Village (Pod 1). It is designed to grow food, recycle heat from the Earthbag Village showers, and provide a beautiful and energy efficient year-round recreation space. It will be affordable relative to its size and produce herbs and tropical fruit as part of the One Community open source botanical garden model. This page contains the following sections related to this structure:
The Tropical Atrium is the center of the Earthbag Village (Pod 1) and part of the One Community botanical garden model. It will provide food, beauty, a recreation space, and shower water heat recapture. It is being design for easy modification if needed, passive heating and cooling, and enough height for growing trees.
Here is a bullet-point list of the key features and intentions for this structure:
Each of the 7 sustainable village models will provide one or more multi-use structures. We chose to build a Tropical Atrium as the center of the the Earthbag Village (Pod 1) because we wanted to demonstrate:
As we continue open source project-launch blueprinting the Earthbag Village and the Tropical Atrium, build them, and problem solve and evolve all the different aspects (water catchment and watering systems, heating and cooling systems, planting and harvesting, etc.) for One Community (and with others around the world) we will use this page as the portal to complete Open source project-launch blueprinting specifics for making duplication of this village model as easy as possible. These details for complete duplication are being designed to include the following comprehensive resources:
|What we’re working on now|
|Remote construction camp setup and maintenance|
|Building plans for all components|
|Detailed materials list and cost analysis for all components|
|Do-it-yourself multi-media resource and information hub|
|How to work with local government if permitting is needed|
|Detailed tools and equipment list, best place to buy, and cost analysis for all components|
|How clear and prepare your site for your build|
|Detailed build-time investment needs for each component based on our building experience|
|Excavation and construction of the footer and foundation|
|Flooring setup, construction, and maintenance|
|Tropical Atrium complete plumbing design and setup|
|Tropical Atrium window and door framing|
|Complete Tropical Atrium electrical design and setup|
|Tropical Atrium construction structural engineering details|
|Detailed Tropical Atrium heating, cooling, and humidity research, plans, and adaptations|
|How to install and utilize water catchment for each structure and the whole village model|
|Automation, monitoring, and control systems design, setup, and data gathering and sharing|
|All of the above for the Earthbag Village eco-shower designs|
|All of the above for the Earthbag Village net-zero communal toilet designs|
|How to make your build easier than ours and how to solve any problems we encountered in our build|
|Tropical Atrium complete and on-going maintenance and upkeep details per our experience|
|List of everyone who helped us design and build this so they can be contacted to help with modifications|
|Archive and database of others building similar structures including their experiences, adaptations, etc.|
|Comprehensive remote-village-construction emergency fire, medical, and evacuation plan|
|All of the above for the rest of the Earthbag Village|
|Complete planting plan and yield details for this structure|
|All of the above for complete renewable energy infrastructure|
|All of the above for complete sustainable food infrastructure|
All aspects of the Tropical Atrium (and surrounding Earthbag Village) are being open sourced for replication. As shown above, we are producing complete materials lists, build-time and labor details, construction plans, permitting needs and strategies, and much more. When complete, the Tropical Atrium will demonstrate a building that can be constructed almost anywhere in the world to provide the same internal environment and results as the original structure. To make this possible we have incorporated a variety of interesting design elements for heating, cooling, moisture control, and easy modification, as well as specific plans for adaptation to the unexpected. Complete planting plans are also provided.
We explore these and the following additional design features here:
The Tropical Atrium is designed with maximum sunlight penetration and passive heating and cooling as goals. To accomplish these, the structure was designed with a round shape, a South wall that is sloped using the hands feature discussed below to match the angle of the sun at its lowest level for the year, and water storage below the main floor to act as a thermal mass. The Earthbag Village East and West showers will provide additional heat via piping the water through the internal structure. The planting plan also incorporates a layered design to minimize shading.
Here is a graphic summarizing our research related to the angle and path of the sun at different times of the year:
Primary venting will be via North and South doors and roof vents, secondary venting will be via East, West, and South slider windows. All the windows and doors will be framed in with the ability to remove, replace, or change them if needed.
Another key feature of the Tropical Atrium is its size. Built 8 feet into the ground with a 25′ high external height above ground level gives this structure a net growing space height of 33 feet. The structure also offers a 64′ width.
This means the structure is both tall enough and wide enough for large trees in the center and a diversity of dwarf species behind those. Details of how these trees are layered for maximum light penetration and utilization are below. You can also visit the planting plan page.
The South half of the Tropical Atrium is filled primarily with the artistic hands feature. These hands are an aesthetically pleasing way to provide the terraces needed for maximum sunlight utilization in the winter and in support of the planting plan. The hands are also designed to be hollow and contain the mechanical room for this structure.
Built and then covered with local stone, the hands feature also provides the very important feature of making this area beautiful while we are implementing the planting plan. Making it beautiful and functional from the first day construction is complete is important because it will take many years for the Tropical Atrium to reach its full plant-growth potential, and at least a year for even the initial planting plan components to establish themselves. Having the structure be beautiful even without plants supports its immediate use as a social and recreational space. Below is a concept render of the view looking South both with and without plants to illustrate this.
The planting plan builds off of all the details above. It is designed to provide a combination of food production and plants that add to the overall beauty of the space. Plants are also layered to maximize light penetration:
Here is a planting plan overview, visit the planting plan page for complete details.
The goal of the open source Tropical Atrium is to create an aesthetically pleasing and multi-functional center for the Earthbag Village (Pod 1). It is designed to grow food, collect and store rainwater, pre-heat water for the Earthbag Village showers, and provide a beautiful and energy efficient year-round recreation space. It will be affordable relative to its size and produce herbs and tropical fruit as part of the One Community open source botanical garden model.
With in easy walking distance of all the Earthbag Village homes, this structure will be a beautiful place to sit and read a book, attend a class, or enjoy a relaxing nap in a year-round tropically maintained environment.
Here is a view of the rooftop seating area that will provide views of the entire village.
This area will be used for recreation, socialization, relaxation, or sometimes even as a stage.
Here is a view of the South entryway that has been designed with the upper walkways and sloped entry creating a mini-amphitheater space able to host events and classes. Seating and standing areas in and around this area are designed to accommodate 200+ people.
Here is the view of this area looking South from behind the pond.
This image shows the Tropical Atrium from the outside and with the fully developed planting plan.
Here is a view showing the main area being used for a yoga class.
Here is a view with the central area being used as a social space and/or tourism attraction.
Here are a few additional noteworthy points. Some are briefly mentioned above too.
See the Heating, Cooling, and Humidity Control page for the strategies we are building into the design in order to allow for us (and those who follow in our footsteps) to fine-tune these variables as needed.
The Tropical Atrium will be the multi-functional center for the Earthbag Village (Pod 1). It will be affordable to build and provide a beautiful and comfortable place to host classes, grow a diversity of tropical fruits, re-use the greywater from the showers (for both watering plants and passive heat), and it will expand our botanical garden model. In accordance with our open source goals, the entire structure is being built for maximum heating, cooling, humidity, and overall structural modification. It has also been designed so that it will be beautiful to see and use even before any of the internal plants and trees begin to flourish.
Q: What will you be growing in the Tropical Atrium?
Please read the Tropical Atrium Planting and Harvesting Page for complete plant and tree details.
Q: How do you intend to maintain/stabilize the internal temperature and humidity?
Please read the Heating, Cooling, and Humidity Control page for complete heating, cooling, and humidity control details.
Q: What is the function of the internal hands feature?
The internal hands are purposed to provide an artistic and functional feature inside the Tropical Atrium. This feature will fill most of the South half of the structure. They create the growing terraces necessary in the South half of the structure to allow maximum sun and growing space utilization. They also create an aesthetically pleasing internal element that will make this building an interesting recreational space while we are waiting for the internal plants and trees to flourish.
Q: How do you intend to build the artistic hands feature affordably?
The cost of this feature of the Tropical Atrium will be extremely low because we will create the basic shape of the visible aspects of the hands using PVC piping that will transport the warm water from the adjacent showers through the fingers. We will then cover the vertical edges with stone from the property and grow plants on the horizontal surfaces. The rest of the hand elements will not need to be created because they are not visible.
Amauri Tavares: Bachelors of Science and Technology and Aerospace Engineering Student
Bear Stauss: Horticulturalist and Landscape Design/Recreation Area Management Specialist
Christian Ojeda: Mechatronic Engineer
Devin Porter: 3D Graphics Design Specialist
Diogo Rozada: Civil Engineering Student specializing in Hydraulics
Douglas Simms Stenhouse: Architect and Water Color Artist
Erika Yumi Tamashiro: Architecture and Urban Design Student
Fernando Carvalho: Mechanical Engineering Student
Gilberto Martini de Oliveira: 3D Animation Design Student
Israel Silva: Electrical Engineering Student
Izadora Carvalho: Civil Engineering Student
Jorge Antonio Ricardo: Mechanical Engineering Student
Matheus Manfredini: Civil Engineering Student specializing in Urban Design
Renata Maehara: Civil Engineering Student and AutoCAD Drafter
Ron Payne: Mechanical Engineer and HVAC / Thermal Designer
Shadi Kennedy: Artist and Graphic Designer