When designing a new house, the garden can quite often be the last aspect to be considered but when designing a sustainable dwelling this should be fully considered with the design of the house itself.
Not only does planning the garden with the house provide design solutions for passive solar design solutions, such as shade in summer and sun in the cooler months, when using deciduous trees, it can dramatically cool the surrounding microclimate, reducing in some situations the need for increased air-conditioning usage in summer months. Water ponds can help to further aid cooling, and the ground itself can act as a temperature regulator assisting in reducing temperature differences when combined with the house foundation.
As the food miles of fresh food for urban areas increases as cities expand, it increasingly makes sense to do what Tom and Barbara did in the 1970’s British sitcom The Good Life – dig up your roses and plant some veggies, get a few chooks and grow some fruit trees. Just like the rest of the garden, the edible garden needs to be considered with the design of the house, increasing its efficiency and hopefully extending its longevity and success beyond an initial enthusiasm.
Dr Wendy Fountain has been looking at this design challenge for more resilient households through edible gardens making a number of valuable observations and recommendations. Firstly, a more direct relationship between the kitchen and the edible garden. This relationship can foster a more symbiotic relationship to the preparation of meals and the growing of food. Generally requiring a northern aspect, the edible garden and kitchen can both be provided with valuable solar orientation for internal and external living. This can provide opportunities for edible plants to double as deciduous plants for passive solar design. Edible gardens require additional storage for not only garden utensils but the storage and drying of seeds, the collection of compost and access to water.
Secondly, the journey from garden to kitchen may require additional resources. Fountain calls this a ‘transition kitchen’, a place for cleaning produce, storing baskets and other collection and cleaning utensils, sinks and benches to perform the ‘dirtier’ preparation of foods.
Lastly the design of the kitchen needs to be reconsidered to prepare, store and cook the fresh produce. Additional storage facilities are required for current crops and the long term storage of foods to be eaten out of season such as preserved foods; preparation areas to facilitate additional food preservation methods; the collection of vegetable waste for composting; a place for potted crops such as herbs, tomatoes, lettuces within the kitchen itself and warm sunny places to raise seedlings and ripen produce.
Gardens and increasingly edible gardens are important design considerations along with the design of the house itself, providing greater opportunities for sustainable and resilient living.
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 Fountain, W., 2015, Integrating housing and food systems through design research for resilience, IASDR2015 Interplay Proceedings, 2-5 November, Brisbane, pp. 680-697. ISBN 978-0-646-94318-3