度咕屋,Do Good Things

何俊賢的非典型教育現場
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2019 / 10月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林旻萱


早在真正踏進度咕屋以前,不曉得與它錯過了多少回。

屹立淡金公路旁,車輛呼嘯而過的跳石海岸邊,那沙漠色、蟻穴外型的房子,分外惹人留心。

它既非咖啡館,也非民宿,從高空俯視,像一隻蹲伏在海岸邊的海龜,房子的主人何俊賢將之命名為度咕屋。

它像閩南語諧音的「度咕」(打瞌睡),令人放鬆、舒心,也像英文名「DoGoodHouse」,被賦予使命,要藉此do something good。

 


還記得小時候與手足在家裡玩躲貓貓的光景,家裡成了處處玄機的遊樂場,充滿遊興,踏進度咕屋的心情,就像這樣。

不同多數建築的稜角分明、光滑無暇,拱形的結構體、扇形的窗櫺,牆面還有著凹凹凸凸的觸感,充滿了意趣。

2008年,屋主何俊賢領著一批建中、台大的學生,以及鄰近的農友親躬造屋,費時三個月完成,這間沒有冷氣,卻冬暖夏涼的小屋,讓他以素人之姿奪下第一屆台灣綠建築比賽首獎。

隨著聲名遠播,想拜訪度咕屋的人著實不少。三伏天裡,何俊賢迎來了一組又一組不畏炎熱的客人,包括我們。

曾是數學老師的他,言談裡還保有教師的威嚴,在介紹房子前,他先率著一大群人到對岸的海邊淨灘,一人撿一只擱淺在岸上的寶特瓶。

原來,當初買下這片面海背山的土地,何俊賢除了在這裡種菜,農閒時,他時常不畏豔陽地到海邊撿垃圾,即便當地人喊他「憨仔」也不以為苦,就這麼一撿就撿上了兩、三年。

與老天的一場對話

令人意外的是,那時的他並不快樂。

出身貧窮的何俊賢,從小就奮發苦讀,也爭氣地一路攻讀到台大工程科學及海洋工程博士,畢業後的他白手起家踏入補教業,也與太太生下兩個女兒,平步青雲的人生,已讓許多人望塵莫及。

「難道,人生就是不斷不斷地賺錢嗎?」彼時,理應邁向不惑之年的他卻提早發生「中年危機」,為了緩解無來由的鬱結,每天清晨四、五點,他摸黑出門打高爾夫,把北部的球場都打上了一輪。

直到在北海岸的球場上,一名球友向他分享個人的體悟:「為什麼要花這麼多時間,去賺自己用不到的錢?」啟發了他給自己一道命題:「如果只剩下一年的壽命,什麼事情是最重要的?」

「家人的健康。」答案呼之欲出。

因此,喜愛北海岸風光的他,買下了一塊農地,決定在這裡耕種,用健康的食物照顧家人,豈料卻因此開啟了一場「與老天無聲的對話」。

把海廢變成「有用的東西」

作為農業的門外漢,何俊賢坦率地說,一開始的他也是漫無章法地亂種,到後來改採「三明治耕種法」,這種以一層有機土、一層穀殼與廚餘、一層有機土的種植方式,讓廚餘成了堆肥,且不會發臭,相當適合城市菜園。

無法杜絕的海洋廢棄物,也給了他許多啟發。為了清除被垃圾淤塞的涵管,他發明了特殊的工具,疏通以後,在潮間帶生活的海蟹循著水源到此繁衍,生態也因此豐富了起來。

他也觀察到了垃圾的變化,早年主要是台灣本地的,後來有大陸沿海省份來的,隨著對岸的發展,居然也有從內陸省份漂來的。他每天撿上三大袋,為了處理更是煞費苦心。

工學背景出身的他,做事講求科學基礎,發現問題後更要求解決問題。為了消化掉讓清潔隊員也頭痛不已的海廢垃圾,他帶著女兒用廢油炸保麗龍,體積一舉縮小50倍,但這樣仍然不夠。

垃圾終歸還是垃圾,「應該要讓害地球的東西變成愛地球的東西。」何俊賢動念想,坊間常見把垃圾製作成裝置藝術,但如果不實用,頂多延遲了再被丟棄的命運,只有讓垃圾變成實用性的東西,才能永續。

海邊常見、大大小小的浮球,經過他的巧思稍作加工,利用球體的形狀,做成燈飾、音箱、時鐘,甚至吸引到藝廊前來商量想合作販售。

巨大的保麗龍垃圾,也提供了他靈感。他將廢棄的保麗龍箱設計成蔬菜箱,下層蓄水、上層種菜,交錯堆疊,再以尼龍繩相互串聯,透過毛細現象調節貯水,讓作物仿擬野地裡的植物,可以靠「天水」養活,不需額外澆灌。

這一日,他則領著客人將寶特瓶加工,做成豬造型的撲滿,「只要今天做了一件對地球好的事,就在撲滿裡面投一塊錢,存滿了,拿去犒賞自己吃一頓大餐。」他鼓勵大家。

活用課本知識,蓋自然宅

因著長時間在田間勞動,讓何俊賢動念想蓋一間農舍。但既然要蓋,何不就學以致用?

「讀書有什麼用?」正規教育裡沒有回答的,就利用這一間房子說個清楚。

雖然,濱海嚴苛的溫度、濕度、鹽度,還有公路上的車輛所帶來的空汙,給了許多的挑戰,但也激發了他的想像。

他決定採拱型結構體,這是國中數學二次函數的線條,這種原始的建築型式,就像愛斯基摩人的冰屋,耐得住17級的颱風、8級的強震。

就在拜訪的當日,外頭近40℃的高溫,一行人迫不及待地踏入室內避暑。

這一間節能宅的秘密,簡單的國中物理就能解釋清楚。何俊賢說,首先在建材上不是使用最常見的鋼筋水泥,而是隔熱效果良好的砂質回收土;另外,在屋子的低處與高處,加開許多通風孔,風可以經過戶外草皮降溫,流到室內,熱空氣上升,則從上方被帶走;同時,西南向開的氣窗,可以迎接夏季的西南風,並阻擋寒冷的東北季風。

建造上,他選擇以層層堆疊的方式來構築圓弧的曲線,牆面刷上水性、多孔隙的奈米漆,讓水氣、熱氣均可以自由進出;最後在外層塗上光觸媒塗料,能夠自行分解油汙與動物糞便,因此即便經過了12年,依舊嶄新。

晌午,當陽光從屋頂的天窗,再經過頂樓的樓板折射後盈盈灑落,屋裡明暗交錯,形成何俊賢口中說的「用光線來作隔間」,在如此放鬆的空間,竟有待在昏暗處的客人,不知不覺瞌睡了起來。

從國英數理化到生命教育

在海岸邊淨灘的日子,幫助何俊賢經歷了一趟自我療癒與身心的重構。他的朋友、台大心理系副教授連韻文告訴他,那沉浸當下且忘我的狀態,在心理學上稱這作「心流」。雖然日復一日地淨灘,看似機械化,但藉此先放下一切,僵化的心才會出現破口,讓新的想法、創意主動湧現。

「如果我只在乎自己,我就等於全世界的100%,但是,當我去做不只為自己好的事情,就算我不高興,也只佔了1%,若我關心的人高興,我還是會為了他們感到幸福快樂。」他有所體悟。

如今的度咕屋不僅是農舍,也是他推動「環保、綠建築、新農業」理念的夢奇地。6年前,他終於說服家人賣掉了公司,全心投入現在的人生志業。

雖然從教育的第一線離場,但作為一名教師,何俊賢對於學生的關懷卻沒有因此減少。

尤其,當他觀察到現今的社會的功利導向,雖然物質條件富裕了,但人的精神狀態卻更加貧病,「他們像玉一樣,沒有彈性。」許多次領著建中、台大的學生一起工作,他發現即便拔尖卓群的孩子,面對起大環境的考驗,也深感焦慮,但那樣的焦慮,極其隱微,連家長、老師都難以察覺。

因此,他開始利用目前的工作,教導學生在學校課堂上,老師所無法講授的內容,不是國英數理化,而近乎環境教育、人生哲學之種種。

離開教室、走下講台的他,卻更符合古人所說:「師者,所以傳道、授業、解惑也。」

教室外的另類課堂

另一天的午後,我們跟著何俊賢來到繁華鬧區、位在101旁的博愛國小。這個暑假的他相當忙碌,趁著學童放假,同時在三所校園施作小規模的工程,這便是其中之一。

當我們拾級而上到三樓,只見一片綠意襲來。這片連接兩幢建築物間的露臺,本是烈陽直接曝曬的空地,如今在他的規劃下翻新成一處美麗的空中花園。

其中一側鋪上了離地種植的草皮,融融綠意象徵了毗鄰的象山;另一側排成了三座環型的蔬菜箱,高高低低的木箱象徵了鄰近的高樓華廈,裡頭種植的香草會依照季節輪轉生長──當然,這些全都沿用蔬菜箱的設計,只靠雨水,不須人工澆灌。

何俊賢邀請我們席地而坐,體驗這片草地的穩固與舒適,他一面啜飲著特地帶來的冰咖啡,眺望遠處的城景,「在這裡,不比到附近的飯店喝下午茶差吧。」語氣裡不無愜意。

位於台北另一頭的郊區石碇、倚山而建的和平國小,校內的水資源則在他的闢劃下建構出一套新論述。天然的山泉水以及學生洗手後的廢水,導引到了生態池,經過水生植物與曝氣作用的淨化,成為乾淨的水源,除了供學生戲水,也為一方水梯田作灌溉。

環保、食農、科學應用,通通都放在設計細節中,他說:「藉此,可以向孩子傳遞理念,也用不著講大道理。」

現在的何俊賢稱得上退而不休,他以校園作為輻輳點,推廣自己的理念,雖然時常往返奔波各地,相當辛勞,但談起與學生互動的點滴,卻神采奕奕。

問他,現在是否還去打高爾夫?「沒時間,也沒興趣了啦。」他朗笑回答。畢竟,現在的他已經找到了心之所向的幸福。

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EN

DoGoodHouse

Doing Good Things

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Scott Williams

Cars whiz past Tiaoshi in New Taipei City’s Jinshan District, on the coastal highway linking Jinshan with Danshui. Beside the road, a desert-­colored, anthill-shaped home draws the eye.

Viewed from above, the unusual structure looks a bit like a sea turtle crouched near the shore. Neither cafe nor B&B, owner Hoch Ho calls the home “dugu wu” (“dugu house”).

He explains that “dugu” sounds like the Taiwanese for “nap,” suggesting something laidback and comfortable. It also sounds like “do good,” which both expresses the house’s purpose, and provides its English name: “DoGoodHouse.”


 

Do you remember how your childhood self felt when playing hide-and-seek? Your home became an amusement park, filled with interesting and mysterious nooks and crannies. DoGoodHouse feels something like that.

The sharp corners and sleek busyness of a typical building are nowhere to be found. Instead, the house has an interesting arched structure, with fan-like latticework on the windows and textured walls.

Owner Hoch Ho built the home with labor from a team of students from Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School and National Taiwan University, and neighboring farmers. Erected over the course of three months in 2008, it earned Ho, a novice builder, the top prize at the first Taiwan Green Architecture Design Awards, and thrust him into the national spotlight.

The resultant renown has drawn many visitors to DoGoodHouse. Ho welcomes group after group of them, ours included, into his home during the hottest part of the summer.

A former mathematics teacher, he retains some of a teacher’s authoritative bearing. Before bringing us into the house, he leads our group to the beach to do a bit of cleanup, requesting that everyone pick up one of the plastic bottles washed up on the shore.

Asked about the connection between beach cleanup and DoGoodHouse, he explains that he first came to the area to grow vegetables. When he wasn’t gardening, he would often walk the beach picking up trash. Locals called him an idiot for his efforts, but he kept at it for two or three years.

A conversation with God

He says he wasn’t happy in those days.

Born into poverty, Ho had studied hard, earned a PhD from National Taiwan University’s Department of Engineering Science and Ocean Engineering, and founded his own cram school. He married, had two daughters, and became more conventionally successful than most of his peers.

But he began to have doubts about his path, wondering, “Is life just about earning more and more money?” Entering what should have been his “stable” forties, he instead experienced an early midlife crisis. Seeking an outlet for his feelings, he began setting out at four or five o’clock ­every morning for a round of golf, eventually playing all the courses in northern Taiwan.

This continued until one day, while playing a north-coast course, a golfing buddy wondered aloud: “Why do we spend so much time making money we’ll never use?” The moment marked a turning point in Ho’s life, leading him to ask himself: “If I had only one year left to live, what would matter most to me?”

The answer that came to him was his family’s health.

His love for the scenery along Taiwan’s north coast prompted him to buy a patch of land there, nestled between the mountains and the shore, to grow healthy vegetables to feed his family. The decision started what he calls a “silent dialogue with God.”

Making marine waste useful

An amateur farmer, Ho admits that at first he had no idea what he was doing. Over time, he adopted the “sandwich” method of preparing the ground. This involves placing a layer of kitchen waste and grain husks between two layers of organic soil, and turns troublesome kitchen waste into useful fertilizer that, surprisingly, doesn’t stink. 

He also observed that the marine trash washed up by the tides came not just from Taiwan, but also from the coastal provinces of mainland China. As the mainland’s development progressed, trash from its interior began to appear as well. Ho’s painstaking beach cleanup efforts filled three large bags with trash every day.

Trained as an engineer, Ho seeks solutions to the problems he encounters.

In this case, there was always more trash, no matter how much he picked up. His solution: “You have to turn something harmful to the Earth into something helpful to it.” If people could turn trash into something useful, something they could use in their everyday lives, they could reduce the volume of trash.

You often find large and small fishing net floats washed up on the shore. Ho took them and, with a little bit of effort, turned them into round lanterns and speakers. They were so cute, he even received an inquiry from a gallery about jointly selling them.

He also found inspiration in the huge volume of styrofoam trash: turn waste styrofoam boxes into plant boxes. He stacked them, growing vegetables in the upper layer and storing water in the lower. He also connected the two layers with nylon cords, using capillary action to draw the stored water into the soil, enabling the plants to subsist entirely on rainfall.

Building a “natural” house

Since he was spending large amounts of time working in his vegetable patch, Ho decided to build a hut to rest in. He then thought that as long as he was building a hut, he might as well learn something about construction.

The summer heat, winter cold, humidity and saltiness of the air at the shore, and pollution from passing traffic, were challenging issues, but also spurred his imagination.

Ho decided to go with a vaulted structure, a form described by the quadratic functions kids learn in middle-­school math. Shaped something like an igloo, the home was designed to withstand typhoons ranging up to force 17 on the extended Beaufort scale and earthquakes measuring up to intensity 8.

The temperature was near 40°C on the day we visited, and a line of people waited impatiently to get inside DoGoodHouse. The secret of the energy-saving home’s warmth in winter and coolness in summer can be found in middle-school physics.

First of all, the home isn’t built from reinforced concrete, but rather recycled sandy soil, which is a good insulator. It also has openings for ventilation both low and high. The lower vents are on the southwestern side of the home to draw in the prevailing summer winds, which are cooled by their passage across the turf outside. The upper vents expel hot air, keeping the interior comfortable in the summer. There are no vents on the northeastern side of the home, which helps keep out the prevailing winter winds. 

Ho built up the home’s curves by layering material, and then covered the walls in a porous water-based nanometer coating. He says that this enables the building to “breathe,” allowing hot air and moisture to pass freely in and out. Finally, he painted the exterior with a photocatalyst that naturally breaks down oils and animal waste, which has kept the home looking as good as new for the 12 years since it was built.

Changing gears

The time Ho spent picking up trash from the beach enabled him to heal and rebuild himself, body and soul.

“When I only cared about myself, I was my whole world. But when I began to do things for other people, I was making those people happy. I was only a small part of the world, so even when I was personally unhappy, I was happy for them.”

DoGoodHouse’s site isn’t just a vegetable patch. It’s also a place for Ho to promote his vision of ­environmental conservation, green building, and new farming practices, a place for him to experiment and innovate. He has dedic­ated himself to this new endeavor since persuading his family to sell their company and retiring six years ago.

A different kind of classroom

We spend another afternoon with Ho at Taipei’s Bo Ai Elementary School, in a bustling neighborhood near Taipei 101.

There, he shows us a wide footbridge connecting two of the school’s buildings. Once nothing more than an open concrete space bathed in blistering sunlight, it was hated by the students who had to cross it.

Ho installed grass on a raised platform along one side, its green representing nearby Elephant Mountain. On the other side, he shaped three rows of planters into rings. He explains that their varying heights are meant to represent the neighborhood’s high-rises, and that the herbs growing within them cycle with the seasons. He also tells us that the whole arrangement uses only rainwater, and requires little labor to maintain.

Ho has also worked on water resources at Heping Elementary School in the suburban Shiding District of New Taipei City. The system he designed for the school routes water from mountain springs and graywater from hand sinks to an eco pond, where it is purified using a combination of water plants and aeration. From there the water goes to the school’s paddling pool, before irrigating terraced paddies.

The design possesses environmental, agricultural and scientific dimensions, and Ho describes it as a way to plant ideas in kids’ heads without lecturing them.

Retired but still active, Ho sees schools as a means of promoting his ideas. Though his projects often take him away from home, he lights up when talking about what he and the kids get out of their interactions.

Does he still play golf? “I don’t have any time to, nor really any interest,” says Ho. Instead, he’s found a purpose that brings him joy.

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