Multi-Zone and Holistic Architecture

We’re combining traditional design with new building techniques and solar architecture – “solar living for a solar age” – to live harmoniously with nature. It’s possible to blend modern architecture, futuristic design, ecological building techniques and multi-zone architecture, to create a living system that fosters community and puts people into connection with nature. We use local materials as part of our ecological and political approach, and our goal of achieving regional autonomy.

“If I live in the awareness that I’m connected with all living beings, the thought arises that all other co-inhabitants of a biotope have to be consciously included in the design of the living spaces for humans. Multi-zone architecture is the attempt to reintegrate humans into this universal network of evolution.”

MARTIN PIETSCH, multi-zone architecture designer


The multi-zone and holistic architecture developed by Martin Pietsch, Tamera’s resident designer and master builder, is a new approach to modern architecture. The building style supports our communication with creation and helps to intensify the way we see the world around us, the weather and seasons. Creating niches for humans, animals, wildlife and plants, it supports interspecies communication as part of our Terra Deva work. Consisting of different climatic zones within the building, it lowers the building cost per m² while enhancing living quality. Ecological building techniques combined with solar architecture provide the heat and cooling needed.

We believe that we can construct buildings that allow us to cooperate with the abundant energy of the sun. This means designing buildings that respond to the sun’s energy across all seasons. Using passive solar building design, we use all parts of the building – windows, walls and floors – to collect, store and distribute solar energy.

In Portugal, it’s traditional to construct buildings with earth. We have all the materials we need for passive solar eco-buildings – stones, wood, clay and straw – within our region. Building with clay and straw creates a good living climate indoors and combines old knowledge with new techniques.

Our multi-zone architectural plan includes the use of spacious membrane-like rainproof roofs that provide shade in gathering places. Bright arching roofs of rainproof tent fabric and dark shade-meshes stretch over the Village Plaza of the Solar Test Field, allowing us to choose what level of contact with nature and the elements we want, depending on our needs and wishes.

We haven’t constructed any new buildings recently because of our zoning ordinance. We’re in the process of applying to change the zone of the land through the PIER process, cooperating with our municipality so we can build in the future.

As part of our future plans to expand our facilities, we’re looking for like-minded people to help us plan. If you’re an architect interested in helping us realize our vision, email us at: solarvillage[at]


  • Our Aula, a focal point for community gatherings and our Sunday matinees, is the largest straw bale building on the Iberian Peninsula. Completed in 2008, it has a wooden frame 8m high, stacked with straw bales and plastered on the inside and outside with clay. The outer wall is made of clay mixed with lime to protect the wall from the rain. The roof is green – grass and herbs grow and make the roof as green as the landscape – which provides excellent insulation. The roof was watered in the first year, but now the plants turn yellow in the summer season, and with the first rain, they turn green again.
  • 8 women, mostly over 60 years old, came together to build the Aldeia da Luz (“Village of Light”) with ecological principles and mostly natural materials. It includes a kitchen, a sculpture studio, a textile studio and an herb house with a teaching garden. Traditional herbal knowledge is researched, compiled and connected with new healing knowledge. We no longer want to throw away garments in Tamera. Everything old can be turned into something new. Out of respect for the textile workers in the Global South, and natural resources – especially the water – creative second-hand garments and fabrics are “up-cycled,” repaired and made available.
  • Our house for handicrafts in the Aldeia da Luz – Casa Sandra – has a spacious sculpture studio which flows harmoniously into the surrounding landscape with terraces, partly protected from the rain, where animals and plants from the surrounding area can enter freely. Inside the temperature can be passively regulated independent of the weather.