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Re: GBlist: Living Machines

Living Technologies is the design or marketing vehicle for Living
Machines you can contact them directly at

The applications are aimed at commercial, industrial or municipal
clients but John Todd was working with CMHC on a residential application
(perhaps someone here has information on the outcome of that)
Jorg Ostrowski (on this list) mentioned that he incorporated a design as
part of the system for his demonstration house - perhaps he could
comment on that.

There has been little discussion here as to what a living machine is,
thought the concept seems to have captured everyone's imagination.
Walter Gropius coined the term to describe an architecture better
integrated to natural or living processes. Living Technologies has
trademarked the name to describe a system (machine) that uses natural
processes to purify our wastes. The systems are based on the ability of
a primarily aquatic system to utilize the 'waste' that we put in it. The
systems (or life that are put into the systems) are designed depending
on the anticipated kind of waste meaning there are certain types of
life; bacteria, fish, plants, etc. that can either transform certain
types of waste or accumulate it in their systems. The end products are
water that is free of 'waste' and in some systems the accumulators can
be harvested and waste materials such as heavy metals can be recycled.

These are not 'natural' systems - they are generally large plastic
containers filled with primarily aquatic life systems that mimic natural
environments in very specific ways - in other words they are machines
that have to be maintained. All septic systems are living machines that
mostly are dependent on the natural environment (air,soil,water) to
ultimately deal with our waste. The problem is that we cannot overburden
the earth with the increasing quantity and toxicity of our waste which
is where most systems fail. 

The importance of John Todds work is the concept that we have to accept
full responsibility for our waste - the negative aspect of this is the
thought that here is a machine that will take care of it for us in some
wonderfully mysterious natural way. 

A realistic concept is to think of our built environment as a toxic
machine that has the potential to pollute our natural environment and
that if water falls against our house as rain or travels through it in
pipes we have to ensure that its quantity and quality remain untouched.
That means no bituminous roofing to erode, no colouring materials with
toxic elements (solvents,metals, glycol, fungicides, etc.), no
chlorinated piping or storage containers, no contact with toxic cleaning
agents, etc.  We also have to supply it with the elements it needs to
maintain its clarity. Either supplied by a Living Machine or something
else water will need air, sunlight, and organisms to recover from our
usage of it.

I feel strongly about this because my own water supply is contaminated
and I live in a relatively untouched part of North America. I may
successfully use my experience and resources to make my water safe at
both ends and make a number of manufacturers and consultants happy in
the process but I cannot see that as any kind of solution.

John Salmen

John wrote:
> Is there anyone out there that is using this system for an individual
> home site and what does it cost (range)?
> Thank You in advance,
> John Wilson
> Prescott, AZ.
> ______________________________________________________________________
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> ______________________________________________________________________
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For  instructions send  e-mail to  greenbuilding-request@crest.org.