Good design is an imperative at Moose Pond Arts+Ecology. Our design approach, whether for a one-page brochure or an integrated permaculture strategy for 50 acres of fields, forests and buildings, is rigorous and thorough. The permaculture design team at MPA+E combines decades of design education and experience in different fields, from interior design, to sculpture, to product design and has extensive experience in the design/build process. We are currently focused on designing and implementing a permaculture strategy for our 74 acre site in Otisfield.
Our design team is available to help landowners or organizations develop ecologically-focused designs for their own locations, from small-scale projects like a greenhouse/chicken coop to larger projects, such as integrated landscape and building plans, forest management strategies or community gardens. We are also part of an informal network of designers specializing in fields from alternative energy to community building and forest management. Our goal is to assist people looking for ecology-based, aesthetically pleasing design solutions and to help them realize their deepest desires for living in harmony with nature and each other.
The Design Team
Shawn Kane earned a BS in industrial design at the Wentworth Institute of Technology and worked in cabinet making and product design in the Boston area before returning to Maine to work on ecologically focused building. Shawn is the green building specialist at MPA+E and works full-time as a designer and carpenter in the local community. Shawn received his permaculture design certificate in 2006. He is currently putting the finishing touches on a timber framed and straw bale insulated home for himself and his wife Seal Rossignol adjacent to the MPA+E site.
Scott Vlaun studied art and design at the Portland School of Art, receiving his BFA before going on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from the University of New Mexico. Scott has designed and built numerous structures, ranging from a 3000 square foot passive solar residence to a tiny Japanese style, timber frame "tea house" and has 30 years of experience as an organic gardener. Along with Zizi, he is entering the third phase of building their home at Moose Pond from lumber and stone harvested entirely from the site. Scott received his Permaculture Design certificate in 2006.
Zizi Vlaun studied architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati, before receiving her degree in graphic design. Zizi is the Creative Director at MPA+E and her eye for beauty and form influences our building and landscape designs as well.
Developing alternatives to the ubiquitous vinyl-clad manufactured housing or energy and resource intensive, oversized custom homes that are proliferating in our region is an essential part of our mission at Moose Pond Arts+Ecology. The building crew at MPA+E is currently involved with two projects that are allowing us to experiment with a variety of alternative techniques geared toward using local, sustainably harvested, and non-toxic materials to create efficient and beautiful shelter.
Scott and Zizi Vlaun began building their house and studio in 1999 using selectively harvested balsam fir poles that were peeled and joined using simple techniques. The size of the original building (around 300 square feet) was in part determined by the size of the timbers that we could carry or drag from the surrounding forest. Beams were at first hand hewn, but we soon acquired a small bandsaw mill that has become essential to our building work, allowing us to create usable materials from the most marginal trees. All the boards for the house were made with the mill using the culls left behind by the commercial logging operation that somewhat ravaged the land before we bought it. The house has since grown to include a hand-laid stone root cellar and a kitchen and gallery/library space are in the final stages of construction utilizing double stud-frame infill walls, recycled cotton insulation and earth plaster made from clay and sand. The final phase of the building will include a yoga studio, sauna and attached solar greenhouse.
Shawn Kane and his partner Seal Rossignol are finishing construction on their hours, constructed of timber selectively harvested from our land and will utilize a rubble trench foundation, wood chip and clay infill system and earth-based plasters all generated from local materials with low embodied energy.
Other smaller building projects have included an outdoor kitchen abutting our garden that we use from mid-April through the harvest season, a stall for our draft horse, and a straw-bale chicken coop attached to our greenhouse.
Since the arrival of Jake, our Belgian draft horse, we have learned a great deal about removing logs from our woodlands with the least possible impact on the land and without the fossil fuel consumption, noise and pollution of the internal combustion engine. Jake has helped us selectively harvest timber from our forest and to move other materials like stone and finished lumber to our building sites.
Our goal in the forest is to promote healthy growth while utilizing dead, dying, diseased or damaged trees. We also continue to thin around our buildings and gardens to maximize our access to solar energy. Jake has also helped us to assist neighbors by removing logs from their property with the lowest possible impact on the land. The creation of horse logging trails has had the added benefit of developing a trail system for hiking and skiing. We are looking forward to integrating Jake into our sustainable agricultural strategies as we acquire the proper tools and techniques.
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