Greetings from the Ecohouse Team!

Window Farm from the inside of the Ecohouse

Greetings from the Ecohouse Team! This semester we will be working on three projects centered around the Ecohouse.

The first project is to create something we can place in the window of the Ecohouse.  Thus far in the semester the Window team has been hard at work coming up with ideas as well as reading past legacy reports in regards to the window farm which is currently holding the place of honor in the front room of the house.

Ideas for this project include:

Continuing to work with the Window farm project

A water wall

A waterfall

Hard at work designing a drainage system for the Green House

The Green House Team is working closely with Jennifer Willet on creating a green house which will be built on the southern facing wall of the Ecohouse.  They have been hard at work reading previous legacy reports and coming up with design ideas to please everyone involved.

Another member of the group has discovered an interesting way to make your trip to the curb on recycling day a bit easier. Justin has found designs for a pop can air heater, and the team is creating a model of this idea to test it’s possible use with the green house.

The Lot Team is back in action. All three members have decided to come back after last year’s success and continue with the work to be done. Currently they are working hard to create a design for the lot which will benefit all the students at the University, by creating a place to hang out in the spring and fall.

Possible ideas for the lot include:

A brick bbq

Swings to sit on

A seating area

A garden

A covered area

A sculpture garden

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The last couple of days have been a bit of a Yoyo, but I think we are finally on the right track. Here, let me explain.

Last week, on Thursday, September 30th, we presented the class with type of signs and where to place the sign on the lot. Also we showed two new layout suggestions. (below)

(not the real colours ^ but just the design aspect. Green = photos, Pink = Text)

We were then given an Idea that we could build a greenhouse cold box, and use one of the panels for the sign. This way, it is both useful, informative, and working art.

So, on Tuesday, October 5th, we gathered with the Eco House team and collaborated on a design.

The box would 2 feet tall, 6 feet long and 3 feet wide.

There would be two long boxes, and then a artistically design in the middle, this way people would be intrigued and more willing to walk along the lot. It was exciting seeing the idea start to come to life.

The Ecohouse Team and Sign team Collaborating – the video. Click to See!

We used painters tape, and drew the shape on the floor and wall, so we could have a visual aid. It was easier this way, to understand what it could look like, and how we could build it.

It would be made from mostly plexiglass or just glass, with a wooden frame. It would slope down from the top, and have three panels where the middle panel would have the information. Above was trying to figure out how high the base should be.

So, with the designs sketched out, and the tape laying out on the ground, the next step was to present this to Noel.

However, we were hit with reality. Costs, how its going to be built, who’s going to build it, etc.

Now we’re back at where we were. We’re gathering our research, and writing out what will be on the sign.

We will talk about the Past, the Present and the Future of the lot, using pictures, illustrations and possibly a story format to explain the story of the Wildflower Garden.

By Thursday the writing will be done, so we can edit it and discuss what needs to be added or changed.

Some good news, on the other hand, is a few of our members also went out and measured the lot, and drew an amazing map with the dimensions. With this map, not only can our team decide where the sign can be located, but for other groups as well when they can’t be at the lot. It’s going to be a very useful aid for the future.

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Issues with the Greenhouse Site

We visited the Eco-house yesterday, and finalized the maximum possible dimensions of the greenhouse. In order to satisfy the requirements of the City of Windsor bylaws, we will maintain a structure less than 108 square feet. Considering some pre-fabricated options, as well as the location of windows on the south side of the Eco-house, it would appear that a 6.5 by 14 foot (91 square feet) greenhouse would be the most appropriate.

The present state of the Eco-house lot indicates that significant ground preparation will be required, including clean-up and grading, prior to starting the build. In-ground planting is being strongly considered, however, the team will require the results of the soil testing being performed by the Urban Agriculture group before proceeding. We also have the opportunity to use on-site rainwater collection for irrigation. It remains to be determined whether a solar-electric irrigation system will be economically feasible, or whether a more simplified approach will be taken.

Further research has been conducted on controlling the temperature of the greenhouse. Since it is a relatively small space, a heating system is not necessarily required. As for cooling, the team has researched the option of an automated solar venting system. Contrary to popular belief, the solar venting system is actually quite affordable, even on our limited budget.

Although significant emphasis has been placed on simplifying the design in an effort to bring it down to a more practical level, there is still a strong desire to include innovative and interesting aspects with an associated artistic value. One method to be used is the concept of vertical growth. Since we are designing a relatively small structure, vertical growing methods would dramatically increase the potential yield of the greenhouse. Including vertical growth along the wall shared between the greenhouse and the Eco-House would further assist with regulating the temperature of the Eco-House while providing a great opportunity for hydroponic growth in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. The vertical growth wall could even be expanded beyond the length of the greenhouse to include adjacent portions of the Eco-House wall. One example of a vertical garden (including rainwater harvesting) is presented in the blog photo. This particular green wall was developed by an OCAD student (Michael Tampilic) in 2008.

Special thanks to Martha Gay-Scroggins (University of Guelph) for meeting with us last Thursday and offering much insight on our greenhouse development.

Photo & Associated Article:

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Getting Technical, Practical and Moving Forward

After having a meeting with Noel and Rod last Thursday, Noel gave us really good insight about our current structures, and while unique, we are not thinking as practically as we should be, and they did not match the budget that is constraining us. We now have a more narrow direction and feel we are on the right track. From here we researched pre-fab greenhouses available to us to try to get a price-point to match our budget. We are also planning to utilize the side of the eco-house to benefit both the greenhouse and the eco-house.

Yesterday, we met with Jennifer. She was excited both about our spinal designs (see last blog), as well as our lean-to greenhouse design, as long as we hybrid it and make it more unique. We agreed to research pricing on materials for the spinal designs, create detailed drawings and schematics. We are going to get back to Jennifer with the pricing hopefully this Thursday so the choice of materials can be complete. We are also going to speak with Martha Gay-Scroggins this Thursday who is a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture in Guelph. She is hopefully going to give us ideas on how to build the greenhouse, how to make it sustainable and anything other information we need.


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Spinal Model

For this week, the greenhouse group was planning on meeting with Jennifer Willet in order to discuss the prior established plans. However, the meeting was postponed until next week.

We have been mentioning biomimcry in the past blogs, however we have not explained it in details. “The term biomimicry literally translates as “imitation of life,” but this is an oversimplistic definition of biomimicry. The idea is not to imitate nature perfectly, but to use ideas from nature to inspire human solutions” (

Our group finished building the spinal greenhouse models, while all the team members went on to complete the required research relating to biomimcry, a list of all the materials needed and their corresponding prices, looking into building codes and permits, bylaws and contacting individuals in the greenhouse industries to obtain funds for the project. Moreover, our group members have also looked into the functioning of the greenhouse through the biomimcry prespective.

Our next step is to contact contracters and officially create blueprints of the greenhouse structure in order to propose them to potential funders.

Finally, we would like to announce that one of our designs, the lady bug, has been published on this weeks Lance newspaper. We would highly recommend all of you to check it out. Specials thanks to Tim Wong.

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Biomimicry: Creative and Practical

We shared our accomplishments in our midterm presentation, and received a lot of positive feedback and criticisms. Our new approach is to match our creativity with practical aspects of the design so we will research size of the greenhouse, the exact location, pricing and funding, different materials as well as natural systems for heating, cooling, water and moisture. We will also focus more on these natural systems, rather than just the design itself, for example, a living wall, ponds, and natural heat capture. We are also going to continue researching biomimicry and methods to incorporate it into our designs. As well, we will look into information on the pros and cons of attaching the greenhouse to the present eco-house and all the requirements needed to make that happen. Next Tuesday, we have planned to have a scale model created, as well as all the research on biomimicry completed, and potential materials and pricing, as well as mind mapping of natural heating, cooling and water. We have also scheduled another meeting on this day with Jennifer Willet to showcase all our new research and designs.
Photo from:

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From Mind-Mapping to Reality

Creativity and innovation continue to flourish among greenhouse project team members. Beginning with the fundamental requirements of a greenhouse, the team developed several mind-maps branching out into regimes that would appear to have little to nothing to do with greenhouse design. From these branches a list of one hundred seemingly unrelated words was compiled, including terms such as: globalization, discovery, stereotype, fashion, rubber duck, waste, parachutes, community and non-profit. The group will take many of these terms and work to integrate the ideas into our design proposals.

Aside from turning the creative wheels, the entire team has been hard at work planning, designing and researching. By the midterm report on February 25, 2010, the team will be prepared to present five exterior design proposals along with proposed floor plans and options for sustainable systems integration. One of the proposed designs follows the theme of a lady bug as depicted. Elementary research will also be completed on recycled or renewable materials that may be used for construction as well as vegetable or herb crops with the optimum potential for output given the climate in Southwestern Ontario. An initial list of potential sources for project funding will also be identified.

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Beehives, Ladybugs, and Eyes – Say what?

This week the greenhouse group has focused on brainstorming a series of radical and creative designs. Which includes greenhouses shaped as domes, leaves, and other biological based designs (eyes, beehive, ladybug, etc.). We have added them to our growing archive and in Tuesdays class, created a mind-map of everything a sustainable greenhouse could entail. We have discussed how the greenhouse will function, such as heating systems, water supply and power supply. Some ideas include using solar panels to heat the water that may circulate through the greenhouse and heat the roots (root zone heating). Other ideas include implementing an underground heat sink, which will control the temperature in the greenhouse either by using water or recycled materials. In terms of irrigation, rainwater run-off from the eco-house and greenhouse can be collected and distributed to the plants. The picture included is a design proposal for our greenhouse by a group member that takes a Canadian bio-architecture approach for an interesting, unique greenhouse. For next week we plan to focus on selecting three or so baseline designs and detailing a list of contents that will be included in the greenhouse, as well as focusing on what sources of power and heating we are going to include.

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High Tech and Organic!

We have been busy researching possible self-sustaining greenhouses.  We are looking for something high tech and organic looking.  The greenhouse might be a 2 storey with a kitchen lab, greenhouse area and studio.  We have started our archive which includes examples of very different and interesting architecture-including one shaped like an intestine.  We have also gathered examples of several materials including: stainless steel kitchen, recycled materials, and different kinds of plastics.  We will be deciding on a design and size in our next few meetings.  We need to meet back with Jennifer Willet and Rod to confirm our choice.  We took away many of the suggestions from the critique and will now be looking at a more specific time line and what our end goal will be.  We are all excited to move ahead with this project!!

Photo courtesy of

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Introducing The Greenhouse Project

Green corridor consists of many art projects that help create a better, greener environment.  One of the many projects that green corridor is aiming to accomplish is the “Greenhouse” project. Our greenhouse team consists of several diverse discipline members; which include two business students: Esra and Julie, one mechanical engineer: James, a  sociology student: Jessica and Lauren who is a psychology major. The greenhouse team has established several goals to accomplish for the winter 2010 term. Our first goal is to research a variety of creative greenhouse designs and prepare an archive of artistic designs that are most appropriate for the green corridor project as a whole.  The team is collaborating with Jennifer Willet and Rod Strickland who will be supporting us with the aesthetic and technical aspects of the greenhouse design.  After meeting with both artists, they have given us an idea of their needs that we must accommodate within our designs. Their needs include aspects such as a lab, studio, gallery, and a kitchen that we must incorporate into the designs. The second goal of our team is to plan methods in order to make the greenhouse function such as the power and water supply and a heating system. Our third and final goal for this project is resource planning as well as coming up with different sources of funding to construct and build the selected design.

Our team is looking forward to accomplish these assigned tasks by the end of this term, so the next team will be able to build the greenhouse as planned.

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