Oasis Design Home/Office

Bubinga hardwood gate made from guitar factory milling reject wood.

Summary: A retrofit of a 1920 summer cabin on 1/4 acre with water, wastewater, energy systems and extensive edible landscaping.

The Oasis home/office has good bottom-line performance. We live healthy, comfortably and inexpensively on a fraction of average American resource use; $15 a month for electricity, about 20 gallons a year of propane, and 3/4 cord of wood, much of it from on-site. At the peak of the irrigation season our water use approaches the American average (100 gallons a day per person) but we have 50 fruit trees and a vegetable garden.


Some elements of the design

(Image at top) A gate in a 1" thick ferrocement garden wall (1/7th the material required for a stuccoed block wall).
The tree at left is an old growth tangerine which with care now yields 3-500lbs a year of fruit.

Permaculture food jungle around Oasis office.
The Oasis office peers out of the edible landscape. Kiwi, passion fruit, lemon guava, plum, walnut, blackberry, peach and apricot all touch the 160 ft2 office.


Permaculture harvest from edible landscape/ agroforestry.
Bounty from 40 varieties of fruit trees provides a steady stream of fruit year-round as well as privacy and shade. —seeFruit tree chart

Fruit harvested from agro-forestry system.
Harvest April 2000

Big basket-fruit
Littlecado, Gwen, & Hass Avocados, Dancy Tangerines (just finishing), Valencia Oranges (just starting), Minneola Tangelos, Kumquats (just starting), Big Jim Loquats (just starting), Cherimoya (last one), (in banana petal) Surinam Cherries & Kumquats (just starting).

Medium basket-veggies
Green onion, broccoli, last tomatoes, last chayote fruit, first chayote greens, cayenne peppers.

Bowl-culinary and medicinal herbs
lavender, oregano, thyme, hummingbird sage, lemon balm, peppermint, aloe vera...

Mat-wild stuff
White Ceanothus, holly, fennel

  Ferro cement rain water cistern under construction, showing expanded metal lath and epoxy-coated rebar.

Ferro cement rain water storage tank.

3500 gallon urn-shaped ferrocement rainwater cistern —seeWater Storage (book)


Redwood cold plunge pool.
Swimming in a recycled redwood tank in the food jungle. The water is covered and changed frequently by flow through to the fountain and periodic emptying on the garden, so no chlorine or filtration is required.

Reverse Osmosis reject water fed garden fountain.

The fountain above which dribbles much of the time from the reverse osmosis drinking water filter reject water which cascades first through the cistern and redwood pool, then through the fountain, the overflow from which waters a manzano banana, cheryimoya, babaco, and strawberries.

Technique for converting inexpensive electric water heater to a demand water heater.
Valve and timer in bathroom toggle between solar direct and solar preheated water boosted in an inexpensive electric water heater reconfigured to function as a demand heater. This system provides 100% solar heated water 95% of the time, and solar pre-heated water the other 5%.


Organic forms and colors react well with natural light on this window seat.

Earth plasters, stone, wood and recycled steel.

Looking out from the bed nook.

The natural plaster crew painting the back wall of the bed nook.

Tracy Vogel, master of plaster, on the right and her assistants Maya and Kara Shoemaker.

The finished bed nook. The skylight travels through the second story and brings down light from the roof to this below grade space.



Rocket mass heater under construction; stove pipe circuit to warm cob bench.


Finished bench.


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