Case study for Mas Franch (Spain)

DATE: 26/09/2013
LOCATION: St. Feliu Pallerols (Girona)
SIZE: 2 ha
DESIGNER: Mas Franch Collective
MANAGED BY: managed by the collective. Richard Wade as tutor

Context – Phys/social historical

Farm, restaurant, Youth Freetime place/residence

Site Analysis/Description – Place/use

Private Youth Hostel System (called “Casa de Colonias” in Spain); Permaculture Center; Open Centre for Courses like outsiders arranging private courses as yoga etc.

Project Background and History

Project started 2007 as community and cooperative of 7 people focusing to change the structures of the place into more sustainable direction. The owner wanted to sell and the cooperative tried to buy it, but it was not possible and the cooperative started to redesign/rebuild and it stayed for renting

Design, Development and Decision-Making Process

In design are two communities: one for THE community (there were between 3 and 12 people in different moments who take the “big” decissions of the projecte and also there are another community (we called it temporary community) for volunteers -for people wanting to study permaculture and community life. Protocol is one year minimum for stable member, for volunteers the minimum commitment is two weeks and there is no maximum.

The decision process, generally it is consensus but times are changing, processing … Practical assembly, different dynamics as process work by Arnold Mindell, working with external facilitators for creating human safe spaces

Role of Designer(s)

The big design of the project is a collective work, each part has its coordinator – the most
experienced or motivated person. There was a very important period for the design of the bioconstruction place, for the economical structure, for water uses, etc.
Richard Wade, supporter for designing courses like PDC.

Programme Elements – what was planned/ the site functions (use, users, activity)

Permaculture: garden, greywater system, ecological building, social networking
Mas Franch is a house with 70 beds for housing. For alternative people. For tourism. In future more and more focused on Permaculture

Maintenance and Management – long and short-term view

Working in different teams called Garden, Bioconstruction, Economical administration,
Education, Collective Secretary etc.

User/Use Analysis

From the background of the Youth Centre to form more diversity of people and very open
developing Permaculture place.

Peer Reviews

First PDC organized in Mas Franch was by Spanish Permaculture Institute, after that we organized five PDCs, one per year, by Montsant Institute of Permaculture. We work with different NGOs, for exemple Peace Brigades International and differents locals social
Articles of Ecohabitar (Magazin) for general publicity

Project Significance and Impact/Lessons Learned

The case where a normal farm changed with Permaculture ideas. Widely interaction case too.

What could have been done differently?

In the beginning there was only the house. The place could have been revisionized, redesigned, re… re… and all the information restudied.
We didn’t have all the necessary information about climate, water, economy and other possibilities and opportunities of the place, we should have obtained more information before we started!


The space is too small, the natural park is around so is not possible to build more houses.
Creativity, Economy, Money, Patience for social life of the community where people are changing often.

Transferable Features and Lessons

Our target are people from cities who want to change their life, but also people starting with Permacuture and wanting to experiment, and volunteers who came here to try community life.

Future Issues/Plans:

Mas Franch will work more and more with people interested in Permaculture, and will do specific activities for people who are not so much interested in Permaculture but are excluded – like elderly people, adolescents, families with small children
something like Schumacher College but for everybody – more accessible, less expensive.

Does your project offer opportunities for volunteering or internships?

Yes, for WWOOfers, we prefer local people because they are flexible, and in the region there is many subsaharean immigrants so we consider to include them but we didn’t do it so far.

Does the project welcome visitors or study tours?


Can you offer accommodation to visitors or study tours (at the project or locally)?

Yes, for bigger groups. Smaller rooms are in planning.

Web Sites/Links:

Bibliography & Project Citations/References

  • Cosecha de agua y tierra by Eugenio Gras
  • Casas de paja (Maren Termens & Rikki Nitzkin)
  • Manual de construcción en tierra (Gernot Minke)
  • Permaculture (Bill Mollison)
  • Permaculture (last one of David Holmgren)
  • Permaculture Notes for teachers (Rosemary Morrow)
  • The sculpted house (?)

EPT participants feedback on the venue

  • Every Permaculture training space/place should have a basketball court to draw on – it was a great addition to facilitate teaching.
  • Toilet lights cycle too short, tap running cycle too long. Beautiful buildings, amazing swimming pool!Round Room is a great space for fun & work.
  • Wish that there were water taps that you can close when finished!
  • Wish there were composting toilets or even pee bales for guys or such… I missed pooing in compost!
  • Would be great to lower the temperature of water in showers for saving energy
  • Good vibe, good people! Would be even better with some technical tweaks to ventilation of dorms & smell management of toilets & showers.
  • It would be great to have a big round shady space outdoors for meetings
    Inspiring: the easy welcome of the residents of Mas Franch, the round building (structural work with wood and bamboo), the pool and the wooden decks.