Design Earth Synergy – Sustainable 21st Century Cities & Eco Village Initiatives – Hawaii -1992-1996  & 2006-2007

Pacific Polis – Prototype Sustainable Cities

Eco Village – Prototype Sustainable Communities

1986-1996   Sustainable 21st Century City – Pacific Polis / The Ohana Eco Village / and  Community Vision Center Overview Diagram:

The Design Earth Synergy record in Hawaii from 1992 – 1996 documents a series of Design Vision Initiatives that were developed well in advance of National and International trends. The first of these Initiatives was Pacific Polis that describes a Prototype Sustainable 21st Century City.  In the same period of time the first Visioning and Conceptual plans were developed for the Eco Village Initiatives.

The design process was always a collaborative visioning process that would set the consensus agreed upon values and parameters, goals and objects for the quality of life and environmental sustainable objectives for both Pacific Polis and the Eco Village. The idea was to develop sustainable solutions both for our largest cities and smallest most vulnerable village communities in the developing world.   In each prototype the idea of the Community Vision Center was included with all its various functions to bring the community together and to envision a common future.

Expand first image below – this is a summary Illustration of the Design Earth Synergy Mission and Goals – Sustainable 21st Century Cities and Eco Villages as well as the Community Vision Center Process and Designs that is a central component of the approach to achieve a Sustainable 21st Century by the Year 2050.


Note: Click on all images or illustrations to expand – best on a wide screen.

1994   Pacific Polis – Sustainable City for the 21st Century

Christopher Belknap – Design Earth Synergy was invited to develop the Master Plan and Conceptual Visioning Documents along with a Collaborative Vision Team that came together on the Island of Maui for one week in 1994 to conceive of City of of the 21st Century on a proposed site in Northern Queensland, Australia.  After a week of developing the goals and values for such a community Design Earth Synergy was commissioned to develop the Vision and Conceptual Master Plan for this Sustainable 21st Century City called Pacific Polis – target population of approximately 500,000 people.
Pacific Polis overall Site Plan above and detailed description of the City Center Central themes and Master Plan highlights below

1992-94   The Prototype (Ohana) Eco Village, Waianae, HI

Design Earth Synergy developed a prototype model for a sustainable village that would be applicable to most parts of the developing world. Designed to address an increasing problem of homeless families in Hawaii at the time, and sponsored initially by Aloha Nobel House, this co-housing community is designed with numerous green principles in mind. This prototype Eco Village sited on six acres would have 7 – multi-unit 2 story- 8plex’s with 2 to 3 bedrooms apartments that would house up to 300 people.
At the center of the Eco Village are the Community Vision Center with social gathering space, a community meeting room, and an area devoted to computer and Internet connection. Even in the most remote regions of the world this village and its Vision Center would have access to the whole world via the Internet and a satellite dish connection, powered by solar and wind generators.

A global structure to support education, medicine, business and finance for these communities can be created and transmitted to millions via the Internet. In addition, a reinvigorated Global Peace Corps could provide instructors and facilitators to support the community vision centers and the people they serve.

The whole site of the Eco Village is planned using sustainable farming principles with food producing landscape throughout. Then with a combination of Aqua Culture and an advanced form of hydroponics called Aeroponics (vertical hydroponics – provides 30 times the yield per sq. ft. of space used) vegetables and fish protein can be provided to assure basic food sustenance. The Eco Village, in concept, can be replicated many times over throughout the developing world, particularly in Africa, India, and even Afghanistan.
Click on Images to Expand Concept Illustrations:

2006-2007   Kiko`o at Kamaile – Waianae Eco Village,  Waianae, HI

The Kiko`o at Kamaile – Waianae Eco Village development team came together originally when Jalene Kanani,  a Honolulu based sustainable products specialist interested in Eco Villages and Co-housing projects, contacted Christopher Belknap regarding the original Eco Village Concepts that Design Earth Synergy developed.  From those first conversations Jalene brought Mike Sessions into the conversation who at that time was President of Habitat for Humanity on Oahu and previously a residential developer.  As a result of their aligned vision and commitments DES Eco Villages was formed to develop an advanced form of the Eco Village project.  With the best of intentions a considerable effort ensued to get the project going over a two year period of time.

The illustrations of the vision and plans below were part of this development effort.  Unfortunately after a two year effort that temporarily secured a site in Waianae along with developing the Master Plan, Sustainable Housing, Community Vision Center and Hydroponic Greenhouse concepts,  the financing of the project did not occur and the project effort had to be suspended in 2007.  In 2015 many of the issues affordable and sustainable housing still remain on the Island of Oahu that the Eco Village Concept was meant to address.   When the timing is right it remains our intention to develop the sustainable Eco Village. Below are excerpts from the original development plans and project description.

Expand Images below to View the Vision and Plans for the Waianae Eco Village.

Project Description:

The project consists of 195 acres zoned for agriculture, located contiguous to the City of Waianae, Island of O`ahu, HI. The project development will be a sustainable, affordable housing project with an agricultural component.

  • 58 8-plexes (464 units) with solar panels on the roofs for water heating
  • 131 single family units with solar panels on the roofs for water heating
  • 125 affordable rental units
  • 81 self-help single family home sites
  • 26 hydroponic greenhouses with photovoltaic roofs and wind turbines on the peaks- for high yield and variety of organic vegetables for market, and for generating electricity to be located on top of the parking and storage areas for the multifamily units
  • an aquaculture area for growing fish for sale and consumption
  • a Carbon Diversion operation for converting agricultural and solid waste into pure carbon while generating electricity and sequestering carbon
  • a private, on-site sewer system
  • a private on-site water system
  • 7 Vision Centers including a larger community center
  • a large community park
  • Fruit, nut and other food-producing trees that will be harvested in cooperation with the greenhouse operation

Affordable: The property is currently in an agricultural zone. To make it affordable, the land will be purchased at agricultural prices and by implementing an agricultural component (26 producing greenhouses and scattered fruit trees), we can keep the rural community happy with the project. The net result will be affordable single and multi-family units. The land cost savings will be the major contributing factor to the homes being affordable. We expect the entire project to be in the affordable category with most units $50,000 below similar units in other new communities.

Sustainable: The proposal is to use on-site systems for services such as water, sewer, storm drainage, waste management, energy production, day care, education and growing food. While most of the services will be managed as separate businesses in this project with fees paid to the association for rent and opportunity, some places might need a totally self-contained community.

Location:  The property is located contiguous to the City of Waianae at Ala Akau and Ala Hema Streets and adjacent to other roadways and to an elementary school. There are two parcels totaling approximately 195 acres. The middle school and high school are within walking distance. The attached site plan shows the configuration anticipated with a 26-acre parcel available to use to mitigate school and traffic concerns.

DES projects are designed to be a model of sustainable communities in Hawaii and in other places throughout the world. This model comprises two main elements: first, acquiring land that is zoned for agriculture and making improvements to agricultural community standards to decrease the cost of land and improvements; second, bringing in the latest in technology to increase efficiency and lower costs. The technology facilitates agriculture through unique hydroponic greenhouses which produce large amounts of food plus alternative energy through photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.

Our Vision Centers keep the project connected to itself and the world. We will be installing a private water system and a private sewer system to allow the projects to be totally sustainable. These systems will use the latest in technology so that the captured gray water is used in the landscaping and other areas.

There will be apartments for both the young and the elderly, multi-family for the growing families, single family detached for the more established families and a section of self-help housing for the lower income families who need a hand up in their quest to become homeowners.

Community Center

The Community Center will provide site-based education and will assist the schools and community with a Community Vision and meeting place.

Green and Sustainable Technologies Used:

  • Solar panels on the roofs for water heating on living units
  • Hydroponic greenhouses with photo voltaic roofs and wind turbines on the peaks for generating electricity located on top of the parking and storage areas for the multifamily units
  • Fruit, nut and other food-producing trees that will be harvested in cooperation with the greenhouse operation
  • an aquaculture area for growing fish for sale and consumption
  • a private on-site sewer system
  • a private on-site water system

 Expand image of Hydroponic Greenhouse and Sustainable Energy Platform:

Proposal  – GrowGreen Power Center &  The Raleigh Cultural Center – North Carolina

GrowGreen Power, Innovative Design and Design Earth Synergy in collaboration have been assisting the Southeast Raleigh community and a non-profit, Passage Homes – in the conceptual development of an Urban Renewal Mixed Use Community / Cultural Center.

On approximately 3.5 acres, the concept consists of a series of commercial uses including a Small Community Country Store / Restaurant / Coffee Shop / Social Cultural Events Gathering Center & Community Vision in the Main Gathering Social Center. Then there is a Mixed Use Retail Center with an central arcade of shops for local community shop owners and two other mixed use buildings.

Over the top of the Mixed Use Retail Center and the main covered Parking Garage is a GrowGreen Power small community Greenhouse Growing Center of approximately 1.5 acres  that will provide the year round growing environment for a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and lettuce for the restaurant and  local market.  Using numerous principles of sustainable design and planning the goal of this project is provide the local community a new  Community Gathering Cultural Center / Retail Center / along with the Community Country Store and Community Greenhouse Facility to bring the small local neighborhood and community together and to provide an economic spark that will act as an economic catalyst to enhance the sense of community spirit and pride.

Click on Illustrations to Expand View:

1992   The Waialua Community Vision Center, Haleiwa, HI

The Waialua Community Association in Haleiwa, on the North Shore of Oahu – over the course of a six month period, developed a vision and Conceptual Plan for the renovation and expansion of their existing Waialua Community Center, a 1934 plantation style Community Hall. The Concept Plan that was developed included the expansion of the Center to include a Community Vision Center on the second level, as well as offices for social services on the ground level, and new Kitchen and Meeting Hall.


Expand Image of the Plans and Elevations of Waialua Community Vision Center:

Expand Image to view Plans and Elevations of the Waialua Community Vision Center:


1999    The Corona Del Mar Design Charrette – volunteer participant sponsored by the City of Newport Beach to facilitate a Vision for the town’s prosperity.

1997    United Nations Habitat 2 –International sustainable communities conference in Istanbul, Turkey –Exhibitor

1996     To Bosnia with Love – Using many of the principles of Community Vision Planning, a small core team came together and conceived of a project to deliver 20,000 Teddy Bears (stuffed animals) from the children and people of Hawaii to the Muslim, Croatian and Serb children of war torn Bosnia. These gifts, expressions of peace and love, were to be given by the American and International Peace Keepers to the children of who bore the physical and emotional scars of war. The hope was that this small gesture would bring some light and joy to the children, and soften the hearts of the people of every culture who had been so divided by hatred in Bosnia. During the course of this endeavor, we received the full support of Admiral Macke, head of the Pacific Command, as well as clearance at the highest level of the Pentagon for the airlift of the Teddy Bears. Northwest Airlines donated cargo shipping of the stuffed animals. Eventually contact was made with members of the International Rescue Committee who became the delivering agency, along with the Peace Keepers in Bosnia.

1995    Earth Day Hawaii 95 – Design Earth Synergy- described above

1993    Honolulu Chapter American Institute of Architects – Subcommittee on Sustainable Communities – volunteer member and committee chairperson. Participated in the Waterfront Reawakening Design Charrette1987, Kaneohe Design Charrette1995, The Barbers Point Design Charette1995

Expand Image of Hawaii Architect Cover Article  &  AIA Sustainable Communities Information Pamphlet:

1992    Earth Vision Foundation – co-founded Earth Vision Foundation to produce Earth Summit Hawaii

1991    Coordinated the 1991 Hawaii/Soviet International Youth Exchange and Congress

1989    Coordinated the 1989 Hawaii/Soviet International Youth Exchange and Congress

1989    Honolulu Chapter American Institute of Architects – Housing Committee –

1989    Hawaii Youth at Risk – volunteer in support of “Youth at Risk Camps”

1988   “The Governor’s Congress on Hawaii’s International Role” – delegate to the Congress

1987    The Hunger Project & World Runners – 3 trips with World Runners running in the Moscow Peace Marathon for the end of Hunger in 1987,1988,1989 & in 1992 at the Good Will Games in Seattle.

1986    Design Synergy Group – co-founded to advance the Vision of Hawaii Aloha 2000 and the idea of Hawaii being positioned in the center of the Pacific Ocean as model of Global Sustainable Community.

Design Earth Synergy – Catch the EARTH WAVE – for a Sustainable 21st Century

Align on a United Vision & Action Plan for a Sustainable

21st Century ……Clean Energy EARTH and World Community

…… the Year 2050