David Spero has done quite an extensive project called Settlements which is a window on the world of low impact ecological homes in Britain. A low impact development is a development that ‘through its low negative environmental impact either enhances or does not significantly diminish environmental quality’ (Guardian). All these low impact developments in the series are involved in permaculture which is an holistic approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems. Permaculture tends towards maximizing diversity and replicating natural systems, encouraging biodiversity and soil health and moves towards a system where human beings are a complementary part of the landscape.
I found David’s talk quite interesting, although it was directed more towards an audience of architects than photographers. I was rather intrigued to learn that these settlers used the terminology of “roundhouse” and “longhouse” which, of course, are also part of Canadian First Nations culture and it was interesting to compare the similarities of the structures, the First Nations structures being much larger though as they are used for communal gatherings as can be seen on the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre’s website.
Spero first started off photographing the people’s homes from a mid-range distance but gradually he started taking communal portraits of the settlers and photographing the insides of the dwellings. For settlements that are off-the-grid, these houses are really quite sophisticated in design and space usage.
Siegle, L. (2005) If you go down to the woods today [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2005/nov/27/observermagazine.ethicalliving [Accessed 24 July, 2017]
Spero, David (n.d.) Settlements [online] Available at; http://www.davidspero.co.uk/settlements/#ts-533 [Accessed 23 July, 2017]
The Photographer’s Gallery (2015) David Spero – Structures and Environment: Two Photographic Projects [vidcast, online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAuRgmtBG2M 56 min 32 sec [Accessed 23 July, 2017]