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Monday, November 17, 2008


A bioshelter is a solar greenhouse managed as an indoor ecosystem. The word bioshelter was coined by the New Alchemy Institute and solar designers Sean Wellesley-Miller and Day Chahroudi (Todd, J, Todd, N. 1994). The term was created to distinguish their work in greenhouse design and management from twentieth century petro-chemical fuelled monoculture greenhouses.

New Alchemy's pioneering work in ecological design is documented in their published Journals and Reports. In 1976 the Alchemists built the Cape Cod Ark bioshelter and her sister The Prince Edward Island Ark. For the next 15 years the New Alchemy Institute studied and reported on the use of these prototype food producing ecosystems.

The term bioshelter (life-shelter) derives from two points of view. The first is that of ecological architecture. To the building designer, a bioshelter is a cellular design, with the structure and glazing acting as the cell membrane, controlling gas exchanges and energy absorption. The building "takes in" nutrients, gases and energy from the surrounding environment and produces crops and waste for recycling (Todd & Todd). Thermal mass as energy storage relates to sugar molecules in a leaf cell. The plants and animals within the building act as energy processors, recycling nutrients and creating order.

The second point of view is that of the ecological gardener. The bioshelter is managed as an ecosystem. Earle Barnhart (1978) of New Alchemy Institute has compared a bioshelter to a miniature ecosystem. As in a forest, the structure of the bioshelter controls the air temperature and movement, flow of water through the system, evaporation, humidity and other environmental factors. Solar heat is absorbed and stored for later use. Beneficial insects are provided habitat. Gases are exchanged between the animals, insects, micro-organisms, soil and plants. Also like a forest, within the bioshelter are a variety of microclimates. The south wall bed and central beds receive the most direct sunlight. The north wall receives full sun from the autumnal equinox until the spring equinox and is partially shaded through the late spring and summer. The northeast and northwest corners are shaded for a portion of the day, morning and evening, respectively.

In some cases nutrient cycles are developed between fish and plants, and/or poultry and plants. Ecological relationships between pests and their predators are encouraged. The system is controlled by good design and human intelligence to be a shelter for a diverse community of life forms.

1 comment:

Lara Glew said...


My name is Lara Glew. I've just visited your website "" and I was wondering if you'd be interested in exchanging links with my website. I can offer you a home page link back from my Recycling website which would be ( PR2

Your link will be placed here: PR2 (It`s a recycling website)

As mentioned, your link would be placed on the site home page, not on any "links" pages which may be buried in the site somewhere.

If you are interested please add the following information to your website and kindly let me know when it´s ready and I will do the same for you in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your site.

TITLE: Recycling
DESCRIPTION: SnaffleUp The recycling web site designed to keep useful items out of landfill.

Or you can use the following html code:

Recycling Site - SnaffleUp The recycling web site designed to keep useful items out of landfill.

I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time,

Lara Glew