Secret Eco-Village Saved (and Other Green Utopias)


The world was stunned this week to learn of a secretive eco-village existing in the heart of modern civilization. Years ago, a pilot spied the middle-class development in Wales and aerial photographs prove the existence of this village. The villagers behind “The Round House” were drawn into a decade-long battle for the right to live peacefully in their self-sustaining development, where people lived in Hobbit-like huts and grew their own food.


Images courtesy Wales News

Set up in 1993 in the Preseli hills of Wales, the group of eco-minded individuals lived successfully – and sustainably – for five years before civil officials caught on. Julian and Emma Orbach founded the hidden village, which relied on reused glass, straw bales and mud construction for the huts and solar panels for power. Their battle for residence was victorious after a drawn-out battle in which officials cited their lack of permits and proper zoning as cause for expulsion. The 22 people living in 8 grass-covered dwellings were able to persuade an increasingly progressive government that sustainable development should not be obstructed.


Image via Ecoble

But this offbeat eco village isn’t the first in humans’ attempt to live sustainably despite prevailing urban and suburban development trends. According to Ecoble, a pseudo-eco utopia (or perhaps just floating home) was created by one persistent and enterprising man named Richie Sowa. A decade ago, Sowa built a two-story exotic “beach” home complete with all the amenities atop an “island” of over 250,000 plastic bottles. How’s that for recycling! A hurricane destroyed his first floating home, dubbed Spiral Island, but he set to work immediately on another, this one complete with heart-shaped pool and palm trees.


While ingenious and determined individuals have undertaken these off-the-grid eco housing projects, other eco dwellings and developments remain squarely in the category of “theoretical” – at least for now. From urban skyscraper farms to floating cities like the Lilypad project, the future of urban planning is increasingly the stuff of sci-fi imaginings.


From our sister site, WebUrbanist: “The so-called Lilypad Project is perhaps the most fantastical of these green wonders and certainly the farthest from being built but is too amazing a concept not to mention. The idea is to create a series of floating self-sufficient ocean-going eco-city islands. Each one would be able to house 50,000 residents and would support a great deal of biodiversity. Collecting pools located in their centers would gather and filter water for use on board. These would be places for adventurers and refugees alike as water levels rise around the world and threaten many, particularly island, habitats.”


Image via Cubeme

Move over, mad scientists: China-based MAD Architects have conceived of the Superstar, a self-sustaining high-tech mobile star shaped city. This amazing mobile city will be completely energy independent, fueling itself with its own waste. It will be able to house 15,000 people and come complete with gyms, digital graveyards, clean lakes, health facilities and more. A blend of the past and the future, low-tech green and high-tech science, this fantastical city will reportedly make its first stop in Rome.