“Earthship Biotecture” Provides Sustainable Housing


earthship_2 Earthship Biotecture was founded in 1969 by Michael Reynolds, an architect, who utilizes innovative technologies to create sustainable housing developments. Based in Taos, New Mexico, the organization has now spread worldwide, and sustainable “earthships” are being used for both leisure and emergency housing. Their aim is to “evolve the way humans live on this planet by evolving existing methods of living,” and help the environment by stopping the negative impacts of physical development from affecting nature.

earthship_1The innovative technologies used allow the earthships to be self-sustainable. They use both solar and thermal dynamics to control the interior temperature and produce electricity. Rainwater is harvested on the roofs, and then recycled through usage inside. Water used for bathing or washing dishes is later recycled and used to flush toilets. The interior climate of the buildings also allows for simple foods to be produced.

The buildings are comprised of both new and recycled materials, which helps keep construction costs low. Recycled materials include rubber tires, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans. Because building materials are easy to produce, earthships deemed as “Simple Survival Model Earthships” are being developed across the Global South to help combat the housing crisis that arises after natural disasters strike.

earthship_3These “Simple Survival Model Eathships” truly embrace innovation, as they aim to give people access to proper shelter that include water, sanitation, energy, food, and garbage and recycling components at a low cost and in a short amount of time. They are designed using minimalist standards, and provide the bare minimum needed for survival, but in a sustainable way. The design and construction are also simple enough that locals can easily learn how to replicate the buildings. All of the designs also meet standard building codes and regulations, so they are safe to live in.

One of the first projects began in Haiti in 2011. The earthships project constructed there was called H.E.L.P. (Haiti Eco Living Project). The homes were built with materials found within the immediate Port au Prince area. Each building can hold 32 people, which are divided into eight groups of four. The homes are also said to be able to withstand future earthquakes and hurricanes.

A more recent project took place earlier this year in the Philippines. WINDSHIP began after Typhoon Haiyan struck and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. These homes were also built using locally sourced materials, both new and recycled. Construction took place between February and March, and the new homes have promised to be typhoon resistant in case future storms strike.

For more information on Earthship Biotecture, visit their website.


Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth is a writer currently based in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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