I originally wrote this chapter as a part of Design 2: Energy at Iso-orvokkiniitty, which originally was broader than just energy. Therefore the Needs chapter was broader than what is necessary for just looking at the Energy. So not loose that text I am putting it here as a separate background article.

Our Needs

Seven Essential Needs as proposed by Sosteric & Ratkovic (1).

The house where one lives relates obviously to ones needs, some of them basic. An article by Mike Sosteric and Gina Ratkovic (1) builds on Maslow’s well known hierarchy of needs which is usually represented with the pyramid. However the pyramid was never proposed by Maslow himself and is a simplified representation of his thoughts. Therefore Sosteric & Ratkovic propose a circle that attempts to represent a further development of Maslow’s (and their own) holistic view of people’s needs and motivations. The needs are grouped as:

  • The basic needs in the outer circle
    • physiological
      • need for substances (like food, water, vitamins, air)
      • need for physical activity (exercise)
      • biological drives for sex
      • etc
    • environmental
      • safety and security
      • protective, nurturing, and aesthetically pleasing environments
    • cognitive
      • our need to know and understand the world
    • emotional
      • our need for unconditional love, support, acceptance, and inclusion in family, friend groups, and society
    • psychological
      • need for esteem, power and freedom
  • Alignment (self-actualization)
    • with the inner self
    • with what is right and proper
  • Connection (transcendence)

“Full health and full human development requires reasonable satisfaction of all essential needs. Basic human needs can be fulfilled only by and through other human beings, i.e., society” (A. H. Maslow, 1964)(1). (Conclusion: we don’t need things – we need people.)

Your house probably relates strongly to your physiological needs but also very much to your environmental needs so I quote the description of that below in full:

Environmental Needs (1)

– Maslow’s original theorization included needs for safety and security; in other words, a safe and secure environment. We reconceptualize these needs as environmental needs. We include in this category the need for a safe and secure environment but go further and include the need for protective, nurturing, and aesthetically pleasing environments at home, work, and everywhere. Note that safety includes the absence of assault of any kind, including physical assault (e.g., spanking, pushing, slamming objects, shaking etc.), emotional and psychological assault (screaming, name-calling, racism, sexism, shaming, passive aggressive assaults) (A. H. Maslow, 1954, p. 40). Stability includes financial stability, which removes anxiety about work and survival, but also the emotional and psychological consistency of emotionally and psychologically stable parents and stable familial relationships. Sufficient environments are environments free of chaos and uncertainty, where all essential needs are met. There is sufficient evidence to assert that safe, calm, stable, and nurturing environments are a prerequisite to psychological health, well-being, and growth, and that lack of said environments leads to various forms of distress and disease (Sosteric & Ratkovic, 2016). Ultimately, we need an environment that is safe, nurturing, secure, calm, aesthetic and that encourages “free, uninhibited, uncontrolled, trusting, unpremeditated expression of the self ” (A. H. Maslow, 1967, p. 197) and the expression of “pure spontaneity.”

The concept of a house in a given culture is pretty predefined and one seldom thinks thoroughly about one’s needs when designing a house. We normally have a kitchen, living room, dining room, bed rooms, bathroom & toilet, storage room so those are where your needs will be satisfied. It’s a well-tested concept and works in most cases but if you are planning to change your lifestyle (f.ex moving from an urban setting to countryside and hoping to develop a more self-sufficient lifestyle) it makes sense to think about your needs and what it means for the house more carefully. Self-sufficiency in food and energy changes the material flows in the house and must be taken into account. Carrying in 1,5-2 m3 of firewood per month is different than lighting the fireplace sometimes on Saturday evenings. A lifestyle where you “toil in the dirt” in different weather conditions sets different requirements to the house than where you are walking to the car that is waiting for you in the garage.

NeedVisionBuildings & infrastructure
  • Enable an ecological lifestyle with a high degree of self-sufficiency in energy, food and materials.
    • Minimise waste
  • – Heating system, source of energy, access to food and drink and other materials.
    Composting bio-waste, sorting and circulation
    – Food
  • high degree of self-sufficiency
  • – Connection to the garden and outside
    – Kitchen: prepare and store food (energy)
    – Dining room: eat and enjoy
    – Possibility to store larger volumes of food: pantry, cellar
    – Chicken and other animals
    – Water
  • self-sufficiency
  • – own well
    – pump, piping (energy)
    – Waste water system
    – Hygien
    • Minimise waste
  • – toilet
    – bathroom
    – keep and use the waste
    – Excercise– the lifestyle requires daily physical activity to maintain the material flow
    – local mobility with bicycle and walking
    – enjoying the nature: walking, skiing, skating etc
    – storage for tools, where to keep working clothes, boots, shoes etc
    – storage for bicycles and other gear
    – Sleep – bedroom
    Environmental– Use natural materials and construction technologies with as small an environmental footprint as possible– air quality inside
    – “save the planet”
    – Safety and security– doors can be locked
    – fire alarms and extinguishers
    – Protection from the elements– insulation and heating the house
    – energy
    protective, nurturing, and aesthetically pleasing environments
  • Create a healthy and inspiring living environment for ourselves
  • Cognitive– create spaces for reflection, discussing, reading, writing
  • Enable social life and living according to our values

  • Hospitality
  • – create social spaces
    – space for friends and visitors
    – privacy
  • Share our experiences
  • Alignment

    Evaluate how it works

    The “House” article contains also evaluation – most importantly:

    • “Permaculture construction checklist” inspired by Paul Jennings (2) and my thoughts and comments to the raised points.
    • Functions-Elements analysis of the House
    • Functions-Elements analysis of the Energy system

    Needs are also discussed.

    NeedHow was it realised?Is it ok?
    – Food
    — cultivation
    Storage for gardeing, beekeeping and mushroom cultivation gear. ok
    — storageA cold pantry in the kitchen (ventilated from outside NE side of house so cold in winter), a fridge with standard freezer, extra fridge below the house for the summer, Earth cellar. see below
    — preparation and processingThe kitchen is relatively big with big sink for preparing and processing bigger volumes, wood fired stove (with small oven) with a lot of space for simultaneous cooking, electric single stove and water boiler used in the summer, big wood fired bakery oven, dining table for baking. At summer kitchen we have gas stove and pizza oven.see below
    — washingbig sinks, dishwashing machine
    — enjoyingdining room table comfortable for 6 persons but we can fit more when needed. In the summer we can use the summer kitchen. ok
    – Waterstandard water piping in kitchen and bathroom
    carried or hosed to sauna
    can be hosed to summer kitchen
    – Hygienstandard bathroom with WC and shower, separate traditional log sauna
    dry toilet outside
    – ExcerciseStorage space for gear mainly under the house or in the loftok
    – Sleep bedroom, extra sleeping space in loft and study, sauna, army tent for volunteersonly temporary short term accommodation for visitors
    – Safety and securityFinland is in general a safe country. Risks are mainly self-made (hurting yourself with machines, falling if slippery, cleaning solar panels from snow , etc). ok
    – Protection from the elementsIsn’t that the main function of a house? Protect ourselves from the cold, snow and rain, winds, heat, mosquitoes etc.ok
    protective, nurturing, and aesthetically pleasing environmentsAll natural materials and surface textures (inside: clay, wood), timber frame structures visible in the house, massive fire places, massive wood kitchen cabins etc.
    Beautiful log sauna.
    Wooden storage building matches the house
    Earth cellar and the stair path on and around it.
    See the House article for photos
    Emotional, Psychological, Alignment, ConnectionOpen spaces for connection but possibility to find privacy behind the massive fireplaces (study, bedroom) or loft. Living room for relaxation, library in the loft, sauna for sauna (pause, reflection and connection)
    The garden with stairs on top of the earth cellar.


    Energy is not normally recognised as a separate need but it is needed for the satisfaction of most basic needs.

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