A greenhouse construction in Tibet

Hello all

I am inviting anyone who has interest in working with construction of a greenhouse in Quinhai, Yushu county, it’s part of the Tibet region, next to the Chendu province. I had some luck to visit this charity school and build a tiny greenhouse there as a semi-art/national volunteer project, the idea was to combine my personal interest with a social innovation case. It was the local charity school wanted this greenhouse, I was just there to try to make this request more “interesting” or perhaps a bit artistic, but practially we just want a solidify greenhouse which can survive from the difficult winter (-20º to -30º) and provide the yearly run vegetable growing inside.

I went to the charity school 3 times in 2018 (first time field research myself, second time some children workshop with some artists and 3rd time I built one greenhouse at the last time). I had no any experience to make any greenhouse, eventually I took a pithouse in Bolivia as my reference, because the Tibet and Bolivia are both plateau. I built the house with the local community according to some basic parameters provided by a weather engineer Wiriya Rattanasuwan in Thailand, including the degree of the roof slope, the orientation of the house…etc. The first prototype is 4 x 7 meters, 2 meters in depth, the condition is good, plants grows okay inside, I heard it grows well even in winter, but super slow, one problems is it lack of maintaining, knowledgeably and operationally.

There are 3 basic designs for the pit-house model we choose:

  1. Half underground, to prevent the cold and use some earth heat.
  2. Earth battery, its a long pipe for warming up cool air drained from inside the greenhouse, usually
  3. Solar energy for power and hot water.

The artistic part:
I had some crazy ideas for a generative documentary film parallel with this greenhouse construction, but this is something “extra”:

The progress we have done in 2018:

Please drop any questions if you like, the participance can be remotely or physically. I am planing to go to build the second one hopefully in August.

Continuing the discussion from A greenhouse construction in Tibet:

Re this - mostly reading the posts but not quite active - am currently working as an urban farmer in Singapore. I saw this and thought it’ll be a cool initiative to help out in. Would you be open to having more help? Thanks!

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yes! right now i am trying to fulfill the basic construction design. I need to know what kind of plant is the best to grow there, i dont have agriculture knowledge, for example do we need the local community to provide soil sample? or what kind of question we need from them? for example, I am preparing questions to the local community like:

How much budget we have at the moment?
How many adult in the school can help maintaining the greenhouse?
How many students in the school at the moment? (how much food we need to grow?)
How long does the school open every year? (Excluding the summer vocation and winter vocation).

and just built this wiki:

Nice work on the wiki! On my end, I’m thinking it’ll be great to find out:

  • What their diet consists of
  • If we can grow other crops to supplement diets
  • If we can identify and grow ‘native’ plants that can be found in the landscape

Adding on to your thoughts:

  • How else could the farm present a space for (collective) learning - perhaps weaving into the school curriculum


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Sorry for the late reply, actually i am working with this project with @shihhuisheri, just to bring here here.

I am thinking to launch a crowdfunding project to get the construction fee. The idea now is to help the local to exchange greenhouse knowledge with tibetan herbalism knowledge. The exchange format will be small zines, physical and digital.

I will discuss these with the locals:

  • What their diet consists of
  • If we can grow other crops to supplement diets
  • If we can identify and grow ‘native’ plants that can be found in the landscape

for collective learning, my skills are max/msp programing, basic knowledge for electronics, e-textile prototypes. Recently i m looking into tempe, nada de coco and mycelium stuffs like those can grow natural cellulose.

Maybe we can have a video chat soon?

Another extreme reference, recommended by my friend Anastassia, her bf is part of this. Maybe we can just grab some design from here:

Yes, great resources and video call sounds good! Excited to see how this project evolves.