One of the last remaining communities still farming like the Aztecs

February 16, 2018 by  
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The village of San Gregorio Atlapulco is one of the only remaining communities that farms in the Aztec agricultural tradition. Located in Mexico City ’s Xochimilco municipality, San Gregorio Atlapulco is home to vast fields known as  chinampas , small islands which are connected by canals used for irrigation and transportation. Farmers cruise on boats through canals between fields to plant, cultivate, and harvest. Tenochtitlan, the Aztec island capital located in the middle of the Lake of Texcoco, was once fed by an integrated, complex system of chinampas. Though the Lake of Texcoco was drained and Tenochtitlan became Mexico City, echoes of Mexico ‘s agricultural past still exist, though they remain under threat. The region’s altitude, consistent sunlight, and abundant water makes for an ideal all-year growing environment. “We basically keep the fields producing all year. How [much we] harvest depends on what crops we put in,” José Alfredo Camacho, a farmer from San Gregorio, told CityLab . “Spinach will take a month and half, radishes one month. It depends on the crop rotation we decide on.” Chinampas are created with help from the huejote tree . “The huejote is the only tree which can resist this much moisture,” Gustavo Camacho told CityLab . “The roots keep the banks of the canals firm. To make a chinampa you first have to make an enclosure of branches and plant willow trees in the water. Then you fill the enclosure with mud and water lilies.” Related: Tired of red tape, indigenous leaders are creating their own climate fund While chinampas are fertile and bountiful, they are not especially profitable. “Nobody makes chinampas anymore,” said Camacho. As the ground beneath Mexico City has warped under the exploitation of underlying aquifers , low-laying chinampas have flooded while highland chinampas have dried out. Though the situation is not hopeless, change would require compromise. “We could solve the subsistence problem ourselves without asking anything of the government by making a system of cascading dikes like the rice paddies of China , but that would require a communal effort which is difficult to organize,” said Camacho. “Such a system of would cut some people off from their fields, which is why they disagree. But if things continue like this the chinampa economy will have disappeared completely in 20 years.” Via CityLab Images via  Serge Saint/Flickr (1) (2)

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One of the last remaining communities still farming like the Aztecs

Gorgeous timber home in the UK blends local vernacular with sustainable design

February 16, 2018 by  
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The Chalfont Home is gorgeous timber residence located adjacent to the Rye Nature Reserve in East Sussex – one of Britain’s most cherished conservation sites. Built by local firm RX Architects , the family house seamlessly blends into its unique natural setting while leaving as little carbon footprint as possible. The structure was built with numerous sustainable features – including highly-insulated timber cladding and solar thermal panels. The rugged landscape of the nature reserve presented quite few challenges for the project. As the sea receded over the centuries, shingle deposits created a delicate, unstable topography. A small bungalow and a few sheds were previously located on-site, but were all in severe disrepair. Instead of renovating the existing buildings, the architects decided to build a contemporary timber structure that would fit in organically with the natural surroundings. Related: Cozy timber home embraces the Australian bush with a split form The architects decided to clad the home in vertical larch boarding , both externally and internally. The exterior cladding will gradually take on a silver patina over the years. The wooden cladding continues throughout the interior, enhanced by the natural stone flooring. The light-colored walls and floors provide a neutral canvas for the sophisticated interior design. The home takes advantage of numerous energy-efficient features . An air-source heat pump works with solar thermal panels to provide the home’s hot water and heating needs. Additionally, all of the windows and doors are either triple- or double-glazed, further insulating the home and conserving energy while letting in an abundance of natural light. The home is also equipped with a number of wide windows that perfectly frame stunning views of the reserve. All these sustainable features are wrapped in a beautiful, contemporary package that pays homage to the various local heritage structures in the area. The timber home looks out of the reserve to the Mary Standford Lifeboat building, built in 1882. This structure was a pioneering project at its time and is a beloved architectural icon for the area today. To echo the historic building’s presence, the Chalfont home was created in the vernacular shape of the building, devoid of traditional gutters or eaves to emphasize the home’s simple volume. + RX Architects Photography by Ashley Gendek

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Gorgeous timber home in the UK blends local vernacular with sustainable design

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