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Designing, Living and Building

We have made a decision to find the peak of our aliveness which has involved moving to live in the rainforest. When we first arrived, we set up a tent tensioned between three trees and ended up calling this our home for around eighteen months. Along the way we added a temporary kitchen, but this experience was very much of the frugal, outdoorsy variety. There is something about the direct experience of a tropical thunderstorm when lying in a tent with the rain hammering on the tensioned fabric overhead, the flashes of light highlighting glimpses of your lover and the booming thunder reverberating through the straps holding you above the ground.

During this time we have designed and built four buildings, in order of our priorities. The composting toilet came first for many reasons. It was a small building which was a good place to begin our transition from architects to builders. Also, enabling the ease of the everyday act of going to the toilet, it was a way of getting going with the process of soil regeneration which could allow us to grow some food.

After a few months of being here, creating the toilet, the temporary kitchen setup began to get old and so a rainforest kitchen, paired with a ram pump, became our second phase. The joy of running water in a sink, a roof that doesn’t need to be adjusted after a stormy night, and a place to comfortably create delicious foods is indescribable. The space we created was clearly inspired by our wild living conditions during the design and building process - today in the kitchen the experience of nature is very real with misty clouds passing through, green vegetation replacing walls, and an organically sloping stone floor.

Going to town for any communication with the world beyond our watershed was beginning to create limits to our collaborations, relationships and research. The creative outlets of music, art and writing, and inlets of reading and research were challenged in finding their space to be exercised. Named the 'Chamber of Wonder', a studio with an internet connection and storage of creative materials and books, was the third adventure into what bamboo (and we!) can do. At the top of a hill with a wide view, being underneath a textural reciprocal roof which connects a circle above a vesica-pisces, feels like an inspiring place to bring dreams into being, to tend to collaborations, and to explore our creative flow.

Finally, our home was almost complete with the consideration of a bedroom. By this point, our tree tent had migrated a number of times and we had a sense of an extremely special place to wake up from a deep sleep. Resting on a big mattress in our newly built cocoon felt absolutely magical, let alone the sense of the cocoon-like structure holding a woven vaulted space nestled into the hillside. As we dug the excavation the colours of the soil were incredibly inspiring and the joy of building directly with nature feels full of potential.

Alongside the creative expression of bamboo building, planting fruit trees, opening paths through the watershed and creating bathing points in the stream, we are beginning to look more closely into permaculture. The adventure of life has evolved somewhat into an everyday discovery in connecting the cycles of our bodies and the cycles of the nature all around us in a way which brings the aliveness of this whole dynamic into fullness.

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