I have produced a map of the location of a broad selection of low impact communities in Britain. This is useful to help us see the sheer variety and growth of these communities, and also to understand how they are clustering in certain places. These are all actually existing projects which have been completed except for LILAC (Leeds), which is in the process of being built.
For the purpose of this map I have defined low impact communities as constituting those projects which:
- Seek autonomy and self reliance, and thus seek to generate all that they need
- Often have mixed goals but tend to include becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable
- That tend to share values. Thus some are intentional communities, others less so, but most have community agreements by which all occupants agree to abide
- That the ethos is self-build and do-it-yourself
- That are structured around living and building collectively and often include sharing communal space
- Involve a care and consideration for others. This can include deliberately seeking to reconfigure existing relationships, such as practicing gender equality
- Are low-cost and often build affordability for perpetuity into the long-term design
- Can requires a change of lifestyle and/or income generation
- Seel minimal resource use (in construction and life-cycle)
- Have low visual impact
- Are built from local, recycled or natural materials
- Are often small scale
These then include rural and urban projects, despite urban projects often having less space from which to generate energy or alternative incomes. Overall such communities are concerned with much more than just the architecture, instead it is about the way people live, and live together, which is significantly more important. In terms of how these communities compare to eco-housing per se, the novelty is the way in which they bring all these different aspects together in one place.
The map is also available as a PDF here: Low Impact Communities map. Please feel free to use it, but please acknowledge its source.
I would welcome any comments, correction or additions.
[Leicester, 19th March 2012]