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Hugh Gravestein: Builder

Photo by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Describe your business?

HG Eco-logic Constructions is about building quality and beautiful homes that work for our clients, the people who will live in them. Our focus is on creating a climate – in both house and site – that is comfortable, and is achieved through passive energy and efficient design.

We have a team of designers and tradespeople committed to creating quality energy efficient houses that complement the landscape.

What is the main philosophy behind your building work?

The main philosophy is to build and integrate a quality home into the environment, with the aim of reducing energy consumption through design, construction and landscaping.

What is your history with permaculture?

My history with permaculture goes back more than thirty years. Over that time I have been involved in the design and implementation of many permaculture systems; and I’ve taught and coordinated over thirty Permaculture Design Courses. I also co-founded and organised the Far South Coast Sustainable Land Use and Living Field Days, with John Champagne, for eight years.

You taught and shared your permaculture journey with your father – how did you influence each other?

My father, Vries Gravestein, and I shared aspects of our permaculture journey; we influenced each other in many ways. I convinced him to attend a permaculture course in the mid-1980s, a time in his life when he found himself at a crossroads and a bit depressed. The course totally revitalised him, and he became very active in permaculture. This continued virtually up until his death, in October 2014.

We had many rich experiences together as a family team – teaching and being involved in numerous projects. He influenced me in many ways, but I appreciated his unique teaching methods and communication style in particular.

What is the most important thing to think about when building a house using permaculture principles?

Site selection. However, we often work with the constraints of a designated building site, and then we concentrate on house orientation, and take into account all of the natural elements which affect the site, and how we can enhance or exclude these.

Who have been your mentors and teachers?

There are so many people who have influenced me over the years. The three people who come to mind in particular are David Holmgren, Terry White and my father. I have been fortunate to have met and worked with many inspiring and knowledgeable people. The permaculture principles continually give me a framework for making clear and balanced decisions.

Hugh can be contacted at


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