5 Best (and Worst) Places to Build a Home or Village | Summary and Q&A

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November 19, 2021
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Andrew Millison
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5 Best (and Worst) Places to Build a Home or Village

TL;DR

Learn about the optimal and least favorable places to build a house or village from a permaculture perspective.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why are slope breaks considered an advantageous location for building?

Slope breaks serve as a point where different ecosystems meet, providing access to varied plant, animal, and soil types. They also offer a higher vantage point for water collection and storage, along with flatter land for agriculture in the valley.

Q: What are the drawbacks of building a house at the top of a hill or ridge?

The top of a hill or ridge poses a significant wildfire danger, as fire can approach from any direction. Additionally, building infrastructure becomes challenging, requiring long and steep roads, water pumping, and hauling supplies uphill.

Q: How does the orientation of a house impact passive solar design?

In temperate climates, orienting a house within 20 degrees east or west on a south-facing slope maximizes the sun's heating and natural light during winters. Overhangs provide shade during summer, while east and west sides can be utilized for planting trees.

Q: Why is it beneficial to build above the confluence of two streams?

Building above the confluence of two streams offers access to fertile alluvial soil from past floods. It allows interception of river flow to irrigate the farmland below, while providing a higher location to avoid flooding and cold air drainage.

Q: What are the disadvantages of building in a narrow valley or canyon?

Narrow valleys or canyons may limit sunlight due to steep hillsides, making it challenging for vegetation growth. In the case of flooding, the water has nowhere to spread, potentially affecting access roads. These locations are also susceptible to rapid wildfire spread in windy conditions.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Traditional villages often choose slope breaks, where the landscape changes from steep to gentle, as an ideal location due to access to different ecosystems and water supply.

  • Placing a house at the top of a hill or ridge is the worst location in terms of wildfire danger, as fire can travel up from any direction.

  • The sun-facing side of a gentle slope is ideal for passive solar design in temperate climates, maximizing natural light and heat during winters.

  • An area above the confluence of two streams offers alluvial soil, good farmland, and a higher vantage point, while narrow valleys or canyons pose disadvantages due to limited sunlight and potential flood and wildfire risks.

  • Clustering houses in a community reduces the environmental impact and resources needed for living, promoting resource and utility sharing.

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