Mother Earth Living


City Repair: Portland Residents Create Community Through Green Building

An architect and corporate refugee, Mark Lakeman helped his neighbors build community using nothing more than mud and paint. Now, many other Portland, Oregon, neighborhoods are following suit.



Photo By Susan Seubert
Recycled oak pallets, reclaimed wood, and waterproofing pond liner support sedum—with roots woven into wire mesh—on the roof of the solar ­sanctuary.
Photo By Susan Seubert
Lying organically among homes in a Portland neighborhood, Mark Lakeman’s Solar Sanctuary connects people to each other and to their environment. Lakeman has traveled the globe in his dedication to learning about public spaces and com­munity gathering.
Photo By Susan Seubert
Photo By Susan Seubert
Jenn Rawling, one of a team of collaborators with Mark Lakeman, created the pottery for this space. The building has two cob shells separated by an insulating layer of straw—an unprecedented design. Fine cob plaster, colored with red oxide, finishes the interior and exterior walls.
Photo By Susan Seubert
Not only a space for community to gather, the Solar Sanctuary was conceived, designed, and erected in a tremendous collaboration—interpreted by Lakeman. Even the foundation, made of “urbanite,” was lifted in pieces from the driveways of the team members—giving them each more ground for planting and giving the Sanctuary a piece of many homes. The semi-conventional foundation has encouraged city government interest and support for further projects.
Photo By Susan Seubert
Part of the solar design, the windows in this cob community building are reclaimed from the landfill, provided by the ReBuilding ­Center of Our United ­Villages in Portland.
Photo By Susan Seubert
Illustration by Gayle Ford
Community members come together in Portland, thanks to City Repair.
Photo By Toby Hemenway





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