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Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence
Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence
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Toyonaka, Osaka, JP
Climate zone:
Warm Temperate

Ann Cantelow Birgit Albertsmeier Colin Mennell David Addis Erika Acosta Khai  Galias Mark Domingo Nick Sikorski Silvère Maréchal Talia Minor
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Towards Balcony Sustainability Despite Restrictions on Permanence

Project Type

Urban, Residential, Demonstration, Educational

Project Summary

Developing systems to be implemented in the restrictive space and legal parameters of a Japanese city environment balcony that will enable the production of food, the recycling of waste, and the maximization of catching, storing, and recycling energy.

Project Description

The Scope:

Presently I am working out of my home in Osaka to try to develop as close as possible a closed loop system that allows for the production of food, the recycling of household waste, and the utilization of permaculture principles towards maximizing potential of limited space urban sustainability and food security.

The Problem is the Solution:

The major issue that exists is that of incorporating long-term goals into the project.  The property is on the grid as essentially a condo style apartment building.  It could in fact be suggested that this project is anything but the optimal place for such a permaculturally in tune design.  The major problem is the fact that although the apartment is owned, once every ten years the management of the building does maintenance on the outside of the patio area to ensure that the structure is acceptable by modern building standards as well as given a though make over to prevent water leakage to the floor below.  In essence then, everything that is done on the property has to be easily removable in about 10 years time when the work will once again commence.  This aligns an ideology that may not necessarily work so well with the long term goals of permaculture - however presents the opportunity to showcase that something can be done in this limited scope - as for a true change in urbanization to become apparent a solution to such a problem must equally become so as there are many people in a similar boat here in the Japanese city. 

Future Intentions:

It is my hope that I will be able to construct a model that maximizes the goals listed in the scope by affecting the least change possible to the existing structure.  This in a sense is an oxymoron as the structure as it presently exists is anything but optimal.  Therefore, to the best of my ability I will work towards a closed loop system whereby the structures can be easily 'taken apart' after a ten-year period and stored for the term of the work to be done, only to be implemented once again upon its completion.  In this manner of thinking one of the things that I am looking at is to make the system not only efficient for the short term, but in like manner, to make a system that can be utilized for a long duration of time as to not discard materials and begin anew every decade. 

Why It Matters:

Having lived in Japan for quite sometime now, it seems obvious to me that people here really would like to be more sustainable.  The problem however exists I think in many cases due to the fact that many have to deal with regulations beyond their control.  It is likely that the people that do work towards growing plants and food on patio's do not bother with closed loop systems as they are aware that any structures will have to be dismantled for ongoing fixes of the building.  In this way, much energy is lost from the system in terms of the perceived inability to capture and store water runoff and the nutrients there in.  It is my hope to devise a system that will be both profitable production wise and showcase the ease in capture and store permaculture energy principles that can be utilized for grand stretches of time despite the work that will need to take place in the future.  It would be easy to just take this plot of living space and move beyond to a more promising piece of land but in the end, the problem that exists for me at present is one that in my belief must be overcome if permaculture is to have a beneficial impact in the massive urban centers both here in Japan and in other regions of the world. 



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Urban Residential Demonstration Educational
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