A Blueprint That Breathes, PT II

Mar 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

SIDE VIEW OF GUEST UNIT: Each of the two-unit guest villas—framed out of local pine—will be built on stilts to protect them from flash floods in the brief monsoon season and to allow the natural flow of surface water into the lake. The Turkana helped identify the best cabin spots for viewing sunrises over the water and for spotting the occasional oryx or gazelle. A. LIGHTS: Outside, movement-sensitive lights will point downward to maximize stargazing and reduce light pollution. Inside, you'll find only low-wattage bulbs.

B. CONSTRUCTION: No nails will be used, because of their "high energy embodiment"—steel is made by burning fossil fuels, and the folks at Lobolo prefer their fossils in the ground. Tongue-and-groove construction will hold timber flooring and ceiling boards in place, and sisal ropes and palm strings will be used to secure the rafters to the roof frame.

C. GARDEN: Recycled gray water will irrigate the grounds and the organic vegetable garden. The lodge will eventually have two "constructed wetlands" to purify septic waste naturally. The camping area will use water-free composting toilets.

D. PORCH AWNINGS will be woven by the Turkana out of reeds from nearby wetlands and fast-growing bamboo.

E. BATHROOMS: Low-flush toilets will use only 1.6 gallons per flush, instead of the standard commercial 3.5. Even better, the shower heads will use a half-gallon per minute at high pressure, compared with the normal 2.5. Only biodegradable, non-phosphate shampoo and soap may be used.

F. ROOFS will be fashioned out of sisal-fiber-reinforced cement tiles, which will be made on-site. Energy will be supplied by photovoltaic panels.

INTERIOR: Floors will be made of local slate from the town of Loiyangalani, and furniture, floor mats, and recycling baskets will be locally constructed from palm fronds. Mosquito nets will keep the odd bug away, and ceiling fans and roof vents will serve as air-conditioning. You might sweat a little when summer temps reach 104 degrees, but just think: No noise to drown out the songs of the African skimmers, wagtails, and stints.

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