Inhabitat: What have been some of the challenges in building the structure?
Lonny: We literally have challenges every day because we’re trying to balance reuse and appropriateness and demonstration and aesthetics and livability and regulations and cash. Balancing those criteria is difficult. We had all this donated plexiglass for gardens, but it proved too challenging to mount it. We ended up having to go with plywood, which isn’t a very sustainable choice, but it was donated. It’s hard to balance those things. Do we go with something easy, free, and donated that’s probably getting wet and rotting without us, or do we use some recycled plastic product? In the end, we went with the plywood.
Inhabitat: What are some of the more unique materials used on the Waterpod?
Lonny: Our chicken coop and composting toilet are both built from shipping crates. Our greywater tanks are made with plastic molasses and high-fructose corn syrup containers used by breweries.
Inhabitat: Are most of your materials donated?
Lonny: Some things we buy, some things are donated. We have well over $100,000 worth of in-kind donations. We’ve had two kilowatts of solar donated to us, a beautiful composter from Arcata, CA, and a partial donation for the world’s most energy-efficient electric fridge.
Will new technologies continue to be installed as the Waterpod moves from port to port?
Lonny: Absolutely. The technology will grow and adapt and change, but the people and exhibitions will also change. For example, we’re planning on installing wind power, but now that we have two kilowatts of solar power installed, we can wait on the wind power. We’re also looking at using glycerine from biodiesel, mixed with sawdust and coffee grinds as a fuel source, but we don’t have that figured out yet. We’ll have different people living on the barge at different times, including visiting artists from Germany, Mexico, and Canada. The Waterpod will always be adapting.
Waterpod rendering by James Halverson of Lux Visual Effects