Earthships, truly inspirational

  • Just found out about these self-sustainable homes called earthships built out of recycled materials such as tires, bottles, or cans and cement/adobe. They're heated and cooled through solar panels and tube systems in the earth.
    http://earthship.com/
    These could be one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I didn't see a post, and thought this community in particular would enjoy. I'm seriously considering building a single room one as a studio of sorts in my backyard. I don't even know, I just want one.
    Anybody own/ know someone who has one? Apparently they're particularly popular in New Mexico.

  • Right in my neighborhood! The first/largest community of them is about 1.5 hours drive north of here. Pretty amazing stuff. See the doc "The Garbage Warrior" for an in depth look.

  • I got one of his "how to" construction books several years ago - very inspiring. Although there are a few flaws if you live in a particularly damp country.

    There is one in Fife in Scotland that's part of an ecological research centre, was pretty cool to visit and see the work of the other groups there. http://www.sci-scotland.org.uk/earthship_centre.shtml

    There's also one that's made "Grand Designs" programme in th uk http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/4od#3218851

    I love the idea, sadly the wife is less than impressed with the overall aesthetic :-(

  • they look a bit like hobbiton. not a bad thing.

    do they require a foundation at all? or do you just build from the ground?

  • wanna have one. so nice and cozy and round walls !

    have to find a place to built one.

  • @'tint - this is where (in the UK at least) there are some problems. Our building regulations are quite antiquated and fearful of "new" ideas so you will need to prove the structural integrity of your building.

    The design itself requires you to flatten your site (or dig into a hill) the material you dig out goes into the tyres to create the "thermal battery". You compact the site before laying out your tyres on the flattened site. So, to answer your question, no foundations! (but best to check local planning law).

  • Its really the same problem in the States. That documentary shows the whole process of the creator trying to go through legislative processes to have his designs recognized and approved. Really crazy stuff.

  • such an awesome link, thank you. my imagination is running wild.

    my father is nearing retirement and is starting to focus his energy on building a sustainable home just outside phoenix (gold canyon ranch) on some land he picked up on the cheap many years ago. i think he's going with straw bale for the walls/insulation, solar, all green materials, etc. wish i had more details to share but it's still very much in the planning phase right now. i'm very interested in learning from his experience and doing something similar, hopefully before i'm in my 60s though. :) the idea of off-the-grid, sustainable living is so attractive to me (as long as it gets internet access).

    let's build monomeville!

  • "The Irish climate is not especially conducive to the successful building of an earthship. The weather must be totally dry in order to successfully pack the tyres with earth and as anyone who has lived on the west coast of Ireland can confirm, dry days are few and far between out here."

    http://www.unicornecofoundation.org/future-earthship.html

  • awesome!
    these houses are from one of the best suisse architects:
    http://www.erdhaus.ch/main.php?fla=y&lang=en&cont=start

  • I'm just in love with the fact that you can design it yourself. As far as re(tire)ment goes, I would love to re(tire) into one of these. Unfortunately my backyard right now is not ideal for anything aside from maybe a shed. :(

    ^see what I did there...

  • I think one of my co-workers helped build one of those when she lived in New Mexico. She was showing me pictures of it on her phone one day. I was really impressed with the interior design.

  • i lived in an earthship for a while (the closest to the hot springs in taos at the time) and worked on them a bit when my back was much younger, and have also spent fair time building with straw and mud. i learned a lot from that experience, particularly from a systems perspective (which imho are the choice pieces to take from that particular pattern language, with exception of the turd roaster architect mike reynolds experimented with, a.k.a. the "solar incinerating toilet").

    one comment i have is that in a passive system it's easy to have too much glass (especially if angled like in the original designs), and too much mass. if radiation from the sun can't be transferred into the mass directly and quickly enough, the building overheats quickly, and cools off faster than it might otherwise when the sun goes down. this was a flaw in the one i lived in, and is not uncommon.

    if this sort of thing is inspiring/interesting, read all you can and most importantly get some experience on other people's projects. natural building and permaculture communities are particularly easy to tap into as there are many people who can really use your free labor, and you'll learn a lot in the process. next, build something small in your backyard! experience is the best teacher, and there are always professionals available if you need guidance/help should you decide to do it legally.

    my favorite things about these types of construction are how one feels when physically experiencing them, and the empowerment one feels from doing something so innate in the face of the typical cultural separation from such.