More on Michael Mobbs’s ecoPOPs

Michael Mobbs shared so many great ideas at Replants last month and I got all excited about the ecoPOP concept. You can read my blog on this here.

As I was about to head off to Melbourne, I emailed Michael to ask whether there were any examples in Victoria I could check out. He replied that the prototype he had built was in Dandenong so, on my way to hike around Wilson’s Promonotory, I stopped in to check it out.

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It clearly is a “prototype” when you compare it to the models in Michael’s new book Sustainable Food, and bigger than what I’m proposing for Wray Avenue.

Still, it gives a good sense of what such a structure looks like. It also gives an insight into what needs to happen to make it successful.

This prototype is in a very different environment to Wray Avenue. While it still provides (and demonstrates) the shading potential that an ecoPOP provides, it’s in a carpark, far from any houses.

On the other hand, the position here, by a bus stop, means that it will have many observers each day who take away an experience of the design. Furthermore, it can provide those commuters with fresh herbs, fruit and (perhaps most importantly) and opportunity to interact, share knowledge and develop a community in which people feel connected and safe.

Unfortunately, the water pump seems to have broken and a lot of the plants have died so, at least visually, it doesn’t appear to be an incredibly successful concept. Keep in mind though that it is a prototype in a very different context.

Unlike Wray Avenue, the prototype is far from any residents who could take some ownership of maintaining plants and replenishing it with annuals. In an ideal world, the bus users would do this but it would take some time for this sort of culture to establish itself.

I’m not as convinced that I can get the Wray Avenue idea happening as I think there were be too big a concern about sight lines for cars. But I’m still very interested in it.

I’d love any feedback on the concept and aim to start talking to Councillors about it very soon.

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3 responses to “More on Michael Mobbs’s ecoPOPs

  1. Hi Heath – I don’t understand the superstructure I see in Michael Mobbs design above. Is it somewhat an art artefact as well?

    It seems to have a bow of a boat bamboo overlay, and what looks like two car front window screens on the top.

    Could you explain what all that is? I assume watering is not done from above, nor any kind of sun amplification used.

    • On the prototype, it is bamboo and car windscreens. I think Michael had tried to make it from recycled materials. The bamboo is for plants to climb on etc. I can’t remember what the windscreens were for (I can’t find my copy of his book at the moment) but I think it was to collect water from rain – you can see from the picture that it’s over a water tank.

      The newer versions are a bit more prefabricated – whether that’s better or not I guess depends on individual philosophy.

      Water is stored in the water tanks at either end of the ecoPOP. How is gets there varies. Potentially, it could be connected to roof top gutters. People could take waste water (i.e. kitchen sink water etc.) and fill it that way etc. The reticulation is also customisable – -subsurface drip irrigation obviously being preferable. This is pumped from the tanks by a solar-powered water pump.

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