Human Nature School

Human Nature School

~ Level 2 Whole Site Design ~

Level 2 Whole Site Design

Location: Traverse City, Michigan

Project Scope: Project Scope: 7th Generation Design was invited by the Human Nature School to develop a Level 2 Whole Site Design for a concept eco-village and nature connection center on a 147 acre property that the school is looking to make its future home. The design was based on ~ 85% of the land being managed as wild commons (the classroom where HNS programs are held), ~ 10% for regenerative agriculture and ~ 5% as village for residents, instructors and full time staff. The HNS vision seven generations hence imagines an intact culture, rooted in place, with a strong ethic of stewardship and care-taking for the natural world – one in which humanity is an essential and full participant.

The Land: The 147 acre parcel slopes from south to north with an elevation change of ~ 125 end to end. The neighboring properties surrounding this parcel were at one time all one large parcel. The land has a long history of logging and farming, and at one point was entirely clear cut during the peak of the logging industry in the county beginning in the1870’s. The climate (USDA Zone 6a) and proximity to large water bodies (Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan) supports a large cherry orchard industry, as well as pears and various other stone fruits. Most of the native top soil is gone, and low soil fertility characterizes many of the current plant assemblages working to recolonize the formerly open fields. The soils are primarily a sandy glacial moraine with a very high infiltration rate.

HNS Existing Conditions Basemap
Complete deforestation of the land in 1938.

Work Performed

  • Full Site Workup and assessment of existing conditions for Water, Access and Structures.
  • Meeting with the HNS community and steering groups to harvest the many pieces of the whole vision.
  • Site walks with program leaders, community members, local plant biologists and foresters. Detailed assessments of existing vegetation and forest health, contour discovery, percolation tests, feature mapping.
  • Aerial-mapping and creation of a large posterized, laminated version of the basemap (92″x42″) for use as a community design tool.
  • Whole Site Design Report with special attention paid to:
    • Access road improvements and routing
    • Facilities for hosting programs (lodge, indoor commercial kitchen, barn, outdoor classroom, toilet facilities, well)
    • Small cabin homes for year-round residents
    • Village facilities (outdoor kitchen, bath house, composting toilets, shop)
    • Village garden and food forest
    • Natural swimming pool
    • Agroforestry and silvopasture systems
    • Four-seasons potable water-purification system
    • Green septic and greywater systems
    • Energy generation (solar PV, biogas, coppice fuel wood) and wood-based heating systems
  • Village design charette, community vision harvests and design iteration sessions
  • Presentation of design to HNS community and neighbor community
Mapping main riparian areas and the many dump sites left over from the past century of use.
Run-on watershed mapping for the property.

“7th Gen brought an impressive breadth of information and understanding that was well beyond the scope of collective knowledge within our organization.  This was true in initial conversations and throughout the many weeks of design process. Also, our process of designing involved roughly 40 people giving input in a variety of dynamic ways over numerous occasions, 7th Gen’s facilitation of this was masterful and very engaging for these participants.”

Matt & Kriya, co-Executive Directors ~ Human Nature School

Cinematic Property Overflight

Design Map Call Outs

Proposed footprint and planting pattern for village food forest adjacent to the community garden.

Community Design Presentation