Habitat Center


Mission and Goals

This department focuses on creating a habitat that is conscious, alive and friendly with both people and the world it lives in. Starting with using palette-racks (an urban commodity) we constructed a building which uses a grid-based structural form to create usable space for people to congregate and work. This is a modular and mobile structure that uses minimal concrete and is highly experimental in nature. We believe that we can create a habitat that uses urban products and recycles urban waste efficiently and beautifully. As part of our goals with this department we will collaborate with Experts interested in creating our ideal environment.


The Living Building Project

“Living Building Challenge is a cohesive standard – pulling together the most progressive thinking from the worlds of architecture, engineering, planning, landscape design and policy. It challenges us to ask the question: What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? What if every intervention resulted in greater biodiversity; increased soil health; additional outlets for beauty and personal expression; a deeper understanding of climate, culture and place; a realignment of our food and transportation systems; and a more profound sense of what it means to be a citizen of a planet where resources and opportunities are provided fairly and equitably?”
- Excerpt from the Buckminster Fuller Fellows Blog

This summer’s project will include blending art, gardening, and technology to develop a digital tool that will help gardeners anywhere maximize garden productivity according to the space they have to work with via the documentation of creating a series of productive garden systems on and around Jaaga that provide a large scale, high-density of greenery to insulate the building from sound and heat, produce salads for the Jaaga Café, detract fire hazards, and provide educational interaction with the local community and communities we invite in on a private basis.

Here are a list of the innovative and aesthetically pleasing garden structures we will create:
(each should be slightly modular, almost portable, with easy access to maintain by hand, and let some natural light into the design)

Vertical garden:

For the front façade we will have a series of densely packed soil-pocket based greenery up and down the verticals , possibly using the existing wire mesh as structure (need to check out that restaurant and decide if we want lettuces or other) alternating with blue aquaponic barrels in a line up and down the horizontals. The Aquaponic barrels will be spaced adequately to flood and drain into one another, allowing natural light to enter the building while creating a waterfall atmosphere when the water is cycling. As well, we will visually represent the ecosystem of worms/fish/plants along this façade so that passersby can be educated and enjoy the magic of this cycle. The densely packed verticals could also be planted with light and dark colored plants to create patterns or images that change over time.

Ground Floor garden:

For the ground floor our plan is to pack the entire bottom wall with thick soil and grow trees. This can be done in either large blue barrels or by using the existing wire mesh to create large planters which will be inhabited by the types of trees that allow roots to grow out and around, providing a visually pleasing aesthetic and sturdiness as well as strong insulation from street-level noise.

Well Garden:

We will convert the existing well into an aquaponics holding tank for fish which may or may not feed its own surrounding garden structure, possibly made from gourds or plastic water jugs, or possibly incorporated into the façade aquaponics system (this will depend on all calculations coming soon)

Rooftop Garden:

There are eight existing gutters on the roof which will be landscaped in different ways. All of them will be de-rusted and then waterproofed by either a plastic or rubber lining, and drainage methods will be figured out before planting. _?_ of the gutters will be landscaped as hang-out space, either with gravel, or sod, or some other walkable ground cover. And the other _?_ will be planted with crops- possibly arovedic herbs for a local practitioner’s usage – or possibly with salad crops for the café. These gutters will either be done aquaponically, or with regular soil.


We will create a worm compost bin that both provides worm castings for our soil beds and also worms to feed our fish. This will be incorporated into the design of the front façade ecosystem (humans-worms-fish-plants-humans) either on the ground or bucket style at the top.
There is also the possibility to create a hot compost that collects neighborhood food scraps. This will be riskier to smells and rats, as it will require a large area of waste scraps on the property, but we can keep thinking on it. If we did do this it might be interesting to set up a microscope near the site where people could take slides to examine the micro-organisms that do the composting.


Eve Sibley, our resident Garden Expert and Founder or World Food Garden, comes from an Arts, Astrology, and Activism background. Having spent her 20’s tending a small, back-stoop, container garden in NYC, Eve knew how simple and fulfilling growing some of one’s own food can be. At 30, she relocated down south to live off-grid and spend more time researching sustainable methods of food gardening. Upon realizing the potential positive environmental and social impact that could be achieved if more people grew a bit of their own food at home, Eve set out to create this site to help more people learn how.

Click here to see a live interview with Eve at the 2008 Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco>


If you are someone interested in this project and have expertise in composting techniques, urban agriculture, vertical gardening techniques and anything in the green and organic space apply using our Expert Collaborator link

If you are someone who has either formal education or working knowledge, then apply to be on this project as a Jaaga Fellow

If you are someone who believes they have a green thumb, loves getting your hand dirty and would like to learn from our experts hands-on and apply to be a Student

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