Hummingbird Hill Community

~ Level 2 Whole Site Design ~

Level 2 – Whole Site Design

Location: Yelm, WA

Project: 7th Generation Design was invited to develop a whole site design for a budding intentional community on an 82-acre property located outside of Yelm, WA. The landowners communicated a desire to develop Hummingbird Hill Community into a living and working community of 4-6+ households that is generative from the ground up. Key focal points of this vision include:

  • Developing and practicing ways of living and working together that enable people to thrive in the resource-constrained future we are all living into,
  • Growing substantial amounts of food, fuel, and medicine on-site,
  • Increasing soil health and fertility, water holding capacity and overall biodiversity and productivity of the landscape,
  • Developing multiple on-site enterprises that provide a high quality of life for HHC community members while improving ecological function, and
  • Sowing the seeds for and nurturing an environment that supports intellectual and spiritual growth

Existing Conditions:

  • A predominantly north-facing aspect with an average slope of 9% that descends the flood plain of the Deschutes River. The highest, middle, and lowest sections of the property are large, gently-sloping and undulating terraces, with steep portions in between each section. A residence and barn are located on the top-most terrace.
  • Temperatures with seasonally typical highs between 50-90℉ and lows that generally drop to approximately 25℉ at the coldest, with an approximate average of 2700 chilling hours (<45℉) per year.
Sector map with colorized elevation and 5ft contour lines.
  • Average rainfall of 52.4 inches per year, with approximately 117 million gallons of water landing on the property per average rain year.
  • Relatively low-moderate solar exposure, with an average solar insolation level of 3.9 kWh/m2/day (compared to that of Death Valley, CA at 6.4 kWh/m2/day, and Fairbanks, AK at 3.1 kWh/m2/day).
  • Average annual wind speeds under 1 mph, blowing predominantly from the southeast and northwest. Winds reach between 4-8 mph with some regularity, with occasional gusts up to 13 mph.
  • Predominantly sandy and stony soils with high fragility, high permeability, moderate to rapid runoff potential, and low organic matter content.

Design Elements:

  • Water: Passive water harvesting earthworks including a terrace system adjacent to the current Main Residence (future Community Hall) and pond sites in the midsection of the property, a spring water collection system, and storage tanks and cisterns for well/spring water and roof-generated run-off. Log crib stabilization of the eroding road edge. Natural Swimming Pool in future community recreation area.
  • Access: Decommissioning of certain overly-steep perimeter road segments to vehicle traffic and recommissioning of an old logging road for better access to the lower northeast corner of the property, and footpaths and ramps connecting different terraces in the community garden areas.
  • Shelter: A ranked list of potential future homesites for the hilltop village, conversion of that Main Residence into future Community Hall, and construction of an observation deck overlooking the terrace gardens, storage for equipment, tools and food, and construction of a 4-season cold-climate passive solar greenhouse, permanent chicken coop, plant and tree propagation systems and various fencing recommendations for livestock and plant protection.
  • Fertility, Food, Forage, Fiber & Fuel: Livestock recommendations and nutrient cycling systems, context-specific food production systems including annual and perennial gardens, multi-species orchards and mushroom cultivation methods, and coppice fuelwood production systems.
  • Energy: Context specific systems for cooking, space heating and cooling and water heating.
existing conditions base map vs design map
design map zoomed in on the “village heart”
relevant sector information for each proposed homesite

Design Map Call Outs