Respect for life in our everyday actions
"Terrazzatura": time donated for the realization of a dream
Damanhur is a big collective adventure, a concrete utopia made solid and real, with everyday actions. As individuals who are passionately committed to the dream of creating something valuable for ourselves and humanity, we offer our own resources and time toward this dream.
A word that you may often hear at Damanhur is "complexity." Here, complexity is used to describe the idea that Damanhur is founded on the efforts and commitment of each citizen to develop different aspects of community life, with a greater variety of activities and creations leading to a greater common wealth.
Damanhur belongs to all Damanhurians, and everyone's contribution to the community is equally valued, regardless of the roles and functions that are carried out. Each citizen dedicates time towards collective goals-such as creating art in the Temples of Humankind and caretaking the woods-as well as time spent towards making a living. Depending on their capacities, everyone contributes their time and volunteer work in areas that are defined based on collective needs.
This kind of devotional work, which is typically an offering of personal time, is called "terrazzatura." This concept was (and still is) key to the creation of the Temples of Humankind and many other works. The basic principle is for everyone to feel like they have an investment in the community and a hand in its development.
Protection of woodlands and energetic self-sufficiency
The planet is a living being to be respected and protected. To do so in the best way, from the beginning of the community, Damanhur has invested both human and financial resources to purchase and care for many hundreds of acres of agricultural and forest lands. Unfortunately, in the Upper Canavese area of Italy, many chestnut forests have been exploited for firewood, which has resulted in the loss of large fruit trees and the biodiversity that once characterized the local woods.
For nearly a decade, local chestnut trees were attacked by the gall wasp, a very aggressive parasite. To restore the woods to their original state, in addition to fighting off the gall wasp with its insect antagonist, Damanhur launched an important bioproject in 1988. We have therapeutically cut and restored the trees, and freed the forest from dead trees and plants. After an extensive effort to identify biocompatible tree and plant species for each area, we have started to reintroduce them in a way that they have ample space to grow. As a result, many species of animals have also returned to their natural habitats in these woods.
Safeguarding the water supply is also an important part of respecting and protecting our planet. In Damanhur's communities, water sources are kept clean at all times. Rainwater is collected in storage basins and reused for crop irrigation, household use and fire fighting, if needed. Where the topography of the land has allowed for it, biotopes have been created by digging lakes and reintroducing biocompatible plant species, according to the principles of permaculture.
Bees are also present in all areas of Damanhur's communities. They serve an integral role in the natural cycle to maintain the biodiversity of plant species.
Damanhur's concept of "bioclimatic" construction
Damanhurians choose to live in healthy homes with low environmental impact. Continuous research and, above all, practical experience have made it possible to experiment with techniques, materials and innovative living solutions that are earth-friendly.
Green building in Damanhur begins with recuperating materials and energy conservation. We call it "bioclimatic building" because it values human beings as aware users of the space. Damanhurians architects begin with an analysis of what already exists, reusing materials as much as possible. New materials are all eco-friendly, such as clay, wood and natural lime. Many alternative solutions are intended to save energy, such as high thermal insulation and solar panel installation.
Houses that have been recently built on the grounds of Damanhur are healthy and well integrated into their natural surroundings. The older homes, renovated from chalets and abandoned buildings, are living a second youth. We aren't keen on plastic surgery for people, but a beautiful renovation of an old house is a real joy!
Some Damanhur homes are truly cutting-edge examples of houses with a Zero Carbon Footprint, as they are made with straw and clay harvested from less than 10 kilometers away, or directly from the land near which the house was constructed.
Inauge, EdilArca, Solerà, respectively, are companies in the fields of design, green building and renewable energy. These businesses were born out of the experiences of constructing homes for Damanhur citizens. All three of these companies currently do work throughout northern Italy, building innovative structures just like the ones at Damanhur.
Two Damanhur communities, Aval and Prima Stalla, have been awarded the Green Flag award by FEE Italy, an international foundation based in Denmark that promotes ecological and sustainable initiatives.