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Thou that dwells in the gardens
                                                               Song of Songs, 13

 
                                                                                                    Nahum Gutman 1920
 
The attempts to reduce the part played by buildings in the global ecological crisis by creating sustainable "green" buildings may save energy and resources, but does not address the roots of the exploitative relationships between human society and its natural habitat. To do so we have to reconsider the status of the two prototype human places - the building and the settlement.

Both emerged during harsh times when mankind was under the siege of the elements and wildlife and had to find refuge beyond the thick walls of buildings and the safety of tightly packed settlements. During these times societies were dominated by their males who imposed the patriarchal values of control, dominance and centralization.
Thus it came about that the spatial presence of buildings and settlements emphasized separation from natural surroundings, control, dominance and centralization, imposing on their inhabitants an inherent coerciveness.

Times have changed however. In contemporary hi tech societies it is nature that is under siege and both the feminist revolution and the irrelevance of a powerful musculature to the survival of the species, have stricken a death blow to patriarchal values.
We should therefore create places the spatial presence of which can offer less defense from and more direct exposure to elements and wildlife, places that are less controlled and more flexible and open to change, that are less dominated by a unified system of building and formal order and in which each place in the system has a higher degree of autonomy. 

 
The three contemporary types of building – traditional, hi-tech and ecological, ignore the amelioration of spatial coerciveness and separation from natural surroundings made possible by social and technological conditions that prevail in post industrial societies. An amelioration that is necessary for enhancing the wellbeing and fullness of life of members of these societies. 

 Even when a Traditional building is surrounded by a garden, towards which it opens large apertures, it still maintains a basic relationship of control- it relates to the garden from within the strong embrace of the walls that surround it.

Hi-Tech buildings provide a symbolic immediate relationship with the world around, by means of glass walls and the minimalist presence of their thin metal bodies. But in fact, the very detachment of the place from its natural surroundings, and the human control of all its elements and relationships, impose the authority of a domineering mistress that, notwithstanding her slim figure and soft lips, denies its dwellers direct and full contact with earth and sky and vegetation and imposes on them a strict spatial control.

Ecological buildings, with their clay and wood materials and elaborated gardens, promise a release from the tyranny of technology and a reversion to a more primordial state of being at peace with nature. However, places of this type dichotomize their space between maximally closed and maximally open. The roofed-over spaces are separated from their natural environment, as if, just as in previous generations, they were subject to the whims of nature and under siege by the elements and wild life. These buildings ignore the fact that in the 21st century it is nature that is under siege and the threat of being ravaged by man.

 

These three types of buildings can not provide the needed spatial freedom and the immediacy of earth, vegetation and the changing of hours and seasons. They all manifest the inherent coerciveness of buildings and various degrees and modes of separation from earth, vegetation, sky, natural climate and cycles of day and seasons.

In the home page we argued that the existentially impoverishing effects of the inherent spatial coerciveness of buildings and of the over exposure to the virtual and artificial prevailing in "third wave" societies, can be ameliorated by the creations of enclosed gardens - places in which we live in the continuous, unmediated exposure to earth, vegetation and the changing of hours and seasons and nature conservation settlements – a human habitat in which the natural topography and vegetation that preceded the human settlement are preserved and recreated and in which both private and public buildings are substituted with enclosed gardens.
 
The intrinsic difference between a building and a set of enclosed gardens is already apparent in the process of their construction:
Gathering a set of places into a building will result in subordinating each of the places to the whole of the building and separating the “built” from the “natural”, even if the boundaries between them are only glass walls.
Such polarization will arise regardless of the configuration of the building: if it is situated within a garden (b), if it surrounds a garden (c) or if it consists of a cluster of pavilions and gardens (d). The dominance of the building over its composing places is however diminished in configuration (c) as its core, the location of the heart of its quasi-body, is extracted from the building and given over to an open air place. The dominance of the building is further diminished in configuration (d) in which its quasi-body is decomposed into smaller parts and the contact surface between “built” and “natural” is increased.

 
 
To create a set of places that are inherently less submissive to the control of the whole and in which there is an unmediated relationship between “built” and “natural”, the creation of the set on a plot of land (1) should start by surrounding it with a boundary that is impermeable to undesired views and unauthorized access (e.g., walls, dense vegetation, etc), (2), than divide the site into several gardens similar in number and purpose to rooms and corridors in a building. To increase the autonomy of each enclosed garden, no formal order should be imposed on their shape, no uniformity on their components and each should be provided with its own direct access from a public domain (3), surround each of these gardens with a boundary that is impermeable to undesired view and access, much in the same way that a room is surrounded by walls and openings (3) and divide each of these enclosed gardens into roofed and open regions.
 
 
The roofed area provides defense from precipitations and excessive sunlight by being covered while an "air curtain" defends it and from extreme climatic conditions while allowing immediate sensory access from one to the open areas (4).
 
 


A set of places emerges that is not dominated by the spatial continuity and formal order of the whole and in which The dichotomy created by the building between its enclosed rooms and surrounding garden, is dissolved – the wall that separates room from garden vanishes and the boundaries that enclose the new room/garden domain provide the same defense from unwanted intrusion as do the walls of a room.  Instead of a building you have now a set of enclosed gardens that are not dominated by the spatial continuity and formal order of the whole and in which the dichotomy created by the building between its enclosed inner places and natural surroundings is dissolved.
 
 
To be able to live in an enclosed garden at all hours and seasons, you will have to allocate a region in each garden and defend it from unfavorable climatic conditions by putting a roof over it and use "air curtains" that blow air at a low velocity to separate it from its open surroundings.  While keeping a temperate ambiance under the roofed area, the air curtain enables direct access to earth, sky and vegetation.
the “air curtain - a fan-powered device used for separating two spaces from each other , keeps inside climatic conditions separated from those outside when the latter are unacceptable to the dwellers.
Transparent sliding doors are provided as well for those occasions when climatic conditions are so extreme that air curtains become inefficient.
 
schematic "air curtain"

 
 
An enclosed garden fulfills the role played by a room in a conventional building. The system of rooms, corridors and halls of which the later consists is substituted with a set of enclosed gardens. The shift from system to set is in itself spatially liberating. This spatial freedom is farther reinforced by the autonomy of each enclosed garden – direct access from the public domain; individual shape and building components that do not to have to relate to the shape and components of the other enclosed gardens in the set, and en-suite bath and toilet facilities. 
 






View from the open part of the enclosed garden towards the roofed part.
 

The bath and toilets enclosed garden, adjacent to the one in which the dweller lives.

View from small open area through the roofed area towards the large open one.

When windows are created in the boundaries of an encgarden, options of spatial choice are doubled. Whoever lives in the roofed region can choose to live in the presence of the open regions of the encgarden as well as that of the world outside. 

 
 
To be able to live in an enclosed garden at all hours and seasons, you will have to roof over a region in each garden and defend it from unfavorable climatic conditions with "air curtains" that while keeping a temperate ambiance under the roofed area, enables you direct access to earth, sky and vegetation. The “air screen” blows air at a low velocity thus creating an invisible barrier that maintains differences of temperature and humidity between interior and exterior. For those times when direct forceful winds may break through the “air screen”, transparent doors that slide into side pockets are also available.  At times sliding roofs are combined with air screens to add exposure to sky and sun as well as to natural ambiance and vegetation.
Exposure to sky glare and direct solar radiation that are beyond the physiological abilities of dwellers, is provided by a veil of man made lattice and vegetation.

 


 
Such defense against glare and excess radiation can be found in the bamboo lattices of traditional Japanese houses and in the vine shades of Mediterranean buildings.
 
  
 
At the back of the roofed area of each garden there is a secondary open area that in addition to increasing spatial freedom and exposure to nature also provides natural ventilation. Solar panels are installed on the surface of the roof.
 
 
To complete the spatial relationships offered by the enclosed garden a degree of spatial holding should be added to the spatial freedom and disengagement offered by air curtains. Such holding can be provided by the walls guarding the roofed area  to be made of warm materials, such as earth bricks, stone or wood. Vegetation or earth embankments can be inserted in the walls that surround the open areas, as long as it does not disrupt the perception of the enclosed garden as the basic spatial/formal unit. The roof should be made of a thin, well insulated material that can offer the spatial presence of a protector that is benevolent and not overbearing.

The set of enclosed gardens is inherently anarchic - there is no attempt of creating an integrated system, but a whole composed of autonomous parts.

 


 
The nature conservation settlement and the enclosed gardens can be created in both existing and new settlements:
 
 

In an existing settlement, Nature conservation conditions can be created on vacant plots or on those on which condemned buildings have been demolished. The land should be purchased by the authorities or voluntary bodies and after the soil conditions that preceded the building are restored, there should no more human interference.  Excluding some minimal design interventions that are to ensure safety, the weather and life cycles of the local flora should be the only factors to determine the future of the plot of land, now designated as a local nature reserve.
 
 
Partial conditions of nature conservation in existing habitats can be found in the projects presented in the the embrace of place  web page. They also occur in such places as the Dutch Woonerf and the Ramblas of Barcelona.
 
The abundance of trees in the aerial view on the left makes Las Ramblas look like an elongated park. In fact it is an urban main street that fuses in one continuous space: shops, restaurants, stalls, vegetation, passing cars, people walking, seating, performing to an ever changing audience, shopping, a variety of pavements and shaded areas.
 
  
 
A similar fusion occurs in the Dutch Woonerf, where in such a street, you are simultaneously in the presence of open sky and sheltered regions, trees, vegetation and paved ground, passing cars and children playing, parking cars and benches.
 
 
 
Full spatial conditions of a nature conservation settlement can obviously be achieved only in places that have never accommodated a human habitat.  To illustrate such spatial conditions, here is a proposal for the creation of a set of residential encgardens on a sparsely wooded, mostly flat area in the lower Galilee.
 
 
To minimize interference with the existing landscape and keep as much as possible of the vegetation, such as trees and flower fields, small sized machinery should be used:
 
 
 Stage 1. To preserve existing ground and vegetation, roads should be created on those parts of the site on which dirt tracks already exist as well as those that are free of trees. Their 5 m. wide itineraries should make earth works, supporting walls, and the uprooting of trees and flower fields unnecessary.

 
Stage 2. The boundaries of the private plots should twist around existing trees and flower fields. The public domains should be designed as nature reserves with a minimum of paved areas.The size of each plot should depend on the intentions and budget of its owners, the configuration of the plot to depend on the prevailing land formation and vegetation. Let's take for example plot A
 
.
 
Stage 3. To create a set of enclosed gardens on the plot we should built a wall along its boundaries and divide the garden within into as many wall surrounded gardens as we would have created rooms in a building of similar use.
To increase the autonomy of the individual enclosed garden each should be provided with a unique shape, relative size of roofed and open areas and with its own access from the public domain. The increased spatial autonomy of these places will enhance the spatial freedom and autonomy of their dwellers. It will also balance the inherent dominance of the whole of the of set enclosed gardens on its parts (generated by their sharing land, ownership and use).
As the gardens are separated from each other by impermeable boundaries, given that the weather is good and with the help of some furniture and parasols, we could actually live in each of the gardens as we would live in on of a building's rooms - a bedroom, a  living room, etc.
 
 

Stage 4. To enable dwellers to live in comfort during all climatic conditions part of each encgarden should be roofed and separated from open parts of the garden by "air curtains". The resulting collage of open and roofed areas enables the dwellers of enclosed gardens to be at all times in the immediate presence of earth, vegetation and sky with no discomfort and no interference in their daily routine.
 
    
 
Stage 5. Enclosed gardens can also be created on the roofed areas of other encgardens.  In the set described above an encgarden can be created on the roofed part of encgarden e. This will include providing stairs from the main entrance of the set to the new roof engarden and modifications in the covered parking area.
 
Stage 6. The variety of enclosed gardens in the set and the autonomy of each encgarden, enable every individual or group of dwellers to find a place in which the balance of spatial holding and disengagement suits them best. Although the enclosed garden is designed so that its dwellers are exposed to the immediate and continuous presence of earth, vegetation, sky and the cycles of days and seasons, each unit offers a different degree of exposure.
Each of the dwellers can choose an enclosed garden that offers a spatial embrace that is right for her or him. The elongated garden and the narrow roofed one rounded at its back of encgarden a, create a balance between extremes of holding and disengagement.


 
       View from roofed area towards the open one
 
 
The roofed area of Encgarden b that is exposed on both sides generates a spatial situation in which disengagement is predominant.
 
 
Two encgardens in which there is a balance between holding and disengagement are c and d.
 
            c  by day                                                                    c  by night
 
The elongated relatively narrow roofed area of encgarden e follows the curving wider open one, thus enhancing the options of spatial disengagement from the built to earth, vegetation and sky.
 

 


Neighborhoods consisting of affordable residential sets of enclosed gardens can be built even when their size is limited. This is the case in the following proposal for 155 residential units to be built on a site in the Galilee town of Tivon where the same numbers of semi-detached homes were to be built.
 
 
The site



The type of homes built in the site's surroundings.




Typical site flora.


 
Proposal for itineraries of roads on barren parts of the site and layout of 155 plots of  320 sq.m each.




View of one of the "Woonerf" type streets to be created in the neighborhood.
Layout and view of a residential set of encgardens.



Internal views of residential encgardens.





 
In addition to the immediate exposure to earth, sky and vegetation, sets of enclosed gardens enrich the lives of post industrial societies by the high autonomy of each of the enclosed gardens in the set: Each has its individual shape, size ratio of open and sheltered areas, its degree of exposure of sheltered to open and its own direct access to the public domain.
 
 

An enclosed garden fulfills the role played by a room in a conventional building. The system of rooms, corridors and halls of which the later consists is substituted with a set of enclosed gardens. The shift from system to set is in itself spatially liberating. This spatial freedom is farther reinforced by the autonomy of each enclosed garden – direct access from the public domain; individual shape and building components that do not to have to relate to the shape and components of the other enclosed gardens in the set, and en-suite bath and toilet facilities.

Since there is a growing tendency in post industrial societies to work at home, spouses may find that sharing their home at all hours creates tensions and diminishes intimacy. If they live however in a set of enclosed gardens they are able to spend time together in their shared gardens – the equivalents of bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc., leave to the public space and walk to the gate of the enclosed garden in which each works as they would to any outside work place. Each dweller is able to leave the family space to his or her completely autonomous place with its own bathroom and even a small kitchenette. She or he can work at a laptop in the immediate presence of a garden or indeed in the garden itself. Take walks in open air without having to leave home or use the shared garden and be exposed to the interference of others.

The set of enclosed gardens creates spatial conditions than enable each one in the family to spatially disconnect from the household as a whole to their individual domains, each with its own bathroom and gardened region. Getting together becomes a voluntary act of choice, not something imposed by the centralized layout of the home building.
For example, in the following set gardens 5 and 6 can become a lawyer's office and 7 an artist’s studio and gallery.
 
  
      Initial set of encgardens                                     Set with enclosed gardens used for work
    
     Legend:
  1. living encgarden
  2. kitchen and dining encgardens
     3. and 4. individual encgardens
     5. and 6. individual encgardens that can be used as office.
     7. individual encgarden that can be used as studio and gallery.


 
 
  
Sets of encgardens can accommodate a variety of uses – learning, commerce, art gallery, production, stage performances.


Following is a proposal for a school to be created on the bank of a stream. It is to be created without interfering with existing vegetation, land formation and man made structures. If the pupils and staff will participate in building its walls from earth bricks and the preservation and reclaiming of its flora, this in itself will become and educational and informative event.
The site on which the school is to be built:

 
 

Designing the school as a set of enclosed gardens enables it to function after classes as recreation area and community center.
 
     Layout of the school set of gardens
 

 
Layout and bird's view of the junior section: 2 pairs of 1st and 2nd grades
linked by a shared enclosed garden at their back.
 
 
Interior of one of the classes.
   

 
Proposal for a  nature conservation settlement in the Arava southern Israel prairie.

Enclosed gardens and nature conservation settlements enable the creation of human habitats even in remote pristine areas, without harming their land configuration and vegetation. To make these nature conservation settlements accessible without the disruptive impact of a vast network of roads, these should be substituted with high-speed 300-500 km/h trains. A family can than live in a region like the Arava and communicate with peers and clients in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area by media and use the railway to meet them face to face in less than an hour.

When the nations of western Asia will eventually peacefully resolve their archaic conflicts, these high speed trains will enable Arava dwellers direct contact with the inhabitants of neighboring countries and the three continents accessible by land from Israel.

 
 
 
Schematic layout of zones and roads in the proposesd  nature conservation settlement.
 

The nature conservation settlement consists entirely of enclosed gardens. At its core there is a central Boulevard that, like the Ramblas of Barcelona, accommodates a variety of places of work, commerce and culture. On both sides of the Boulevard are residential areas along Dutch "Woonerf" residential streets. In both the Boulevard and the "Woonerf" streets, we witness the integration of a variety of activities, of built and natural, cars and pedestrians, passing through and gathering.
 
 
 Large enclosed gardens designated for hi-tech work spaces, large stores, exhibitions, theatrical performances, etc., are to be surrounded with smaller enclosed gardens – shops, galleries, offices, that open up directly to a pedestrian street. Car access and parking is at road level: -3.00 (the level of roads in the settlement). 
  


 
       
Internal view of enclosed garden intended for hi-tech work spaces, large stores, exhibitions,         theatrical performances, etc.                                                   
 



Closing statements
The culture-nature immediacy made possible by nature conservation settlements and sets of enclosed gardens provides a crucial balance for the over-exposure of post industrial societies to that which is artificial and virtual.  In these societies the coerciveness of buildings is exacerbated by the fact that the immediate, sensual contact with the world is diminished. We are continually exposed to artificial sounds and sights. We communicate by electronic means. Means of production are indirect – the click of a mouse, the depression of a key. There is less manual use of tools, less direct contact with materials. Both at home and in public places much of the world encountered is a virtual one. These encounters emphasize our cognitive mode and do not involve the whole of our being. As a result, our psychophysical creative abilities are impaired.
Paradoxically, the same cutting edge technology that enables the erection and maintenance of hi-tech complex building systems also enable a new direct exposure to nature and the elements, as we witness for example in windsurfing equipment, ultra-light planes and in "air curtains".
     
 
Contemporary designers do not attempt however to use these advanced technologies to create places that will add to the ability of dwellers to live fuller lives and enhance  their existential well being. They tend instead to create buildings that represent and signify the Hi-Tech power and technological sophistication and to provide beautiful comfortable fixtures such as glass walls, air condition and escalators.  These place creators, celebrities such as Frank Gerry, Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind among them, ignore or are unaware of the existentially debilitating effects that artificial and virtual surroundings have on their dwellers.
 
                       Zaha Hadid                                Frank Gerry                                   Daniel Libeskind
 
Their clients in their turn are seduced by the total comfort and the prestigious/powerful presence of these edifices provides, unaware that their glittering spatial surroundings are existentially impoverishing.
Creating a Hi-Tech building is like cutting off a healthy limb to substitute it with an artificial one that is superior to the original organic one in all respects except of not being part the psychophysical whole that is you.
The kind of habitat we have promoted on this page may seem impractical if not irresponsible to the reader that has become accustomed to the apocalyptic predictions of a future in which an ever multiplying population lives in futuristic dense, high rise urban settlements while open grounds are devoured and impoverished by over exploitation.
It is my position that these prophecies do not take in consideration the feminist revolution, the most profound of the upheavals that took place in the former century. Once women become educated, emancipated and have access to all the resources of their societies, they resist the pressures of religious/fascist establishments to act as producers of large numbers of offspring.
This is just one of the factors that will bring about a gradual reduction of world population in developed countries. The other potential factor is a gruesome one, yet should be faced: the spread of famine and epidemics in under developed countries that will decimate their populations. These societies will have to join the post industrial world or die.


Another aspect of sets of enclosed gardens that may be open to criticism, is the extra cost involved in building walls that surround not only the roofed areas, as is the case in buildings, but also the open ones.
A comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of the two will reveal however that encgardens are less intensive, complex, and less consuming of energy and sophisticated material. They are thus less expensive to build and maintain.
To all this we should add the luxury of being continuously in the presence of earth, vegetation and sky can make expensive building finishes and gadgets superfluous and further reduce the cost of encgardens relative to buildings.



As to the prevailing "conservation" and "green" policies, I cited Peter Jacob's astute advocacy of Acadia that integrates culture and nature. To day we witness a continuous attack by developers on nature reserves. The nature conservation settlements will enable the existence of each without the destruction of the other.
"Green" buildings are a contradiction in terms and ultimately futile. The sheer process of constructing buildings is highly energy consuming and harmful to natural surroundings and resources. By relating to nature in a humble and receptive way, sets of enclosed gardens and nature conservation settlements offer an alternative that is at peace with nature and consumes far less energy.