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But we wanted to go to the heart of the lab, to know a little bit more on these houses which appeal to more and more people all over the world…. And our shooting all of a sudden is becoming far more comfortable. What is an Earthship? The story of the Earthships starts at the very beginning of the 70s.

Shocked by the waste of resources around him, he is wondering how to make use of the waste to build. Why not use tyres?

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Each and every year, more than a billion tyres are produced throughout the world ; after being used for 3 or 4 years, they are piling up in huge open skips and sometimes they even catch fire rejecting tons of CO2 in the atmosphere for instance in May , in Spain. Once the walls are covered to protect them from the rain and the wind, few visitors will guess how they have actually been made!

Other used materials are also being employed in the walls of the Earthships and they play a much more aesthetic role, such as glass bottles which enable multi-coloured light to beam through the house. Gradually Michael Reynolds has rallied around him a team of people who are convinced that he is on the right track and he is launching a good deal of experiments.

We are like a herd of buffaloes running straight to the cliff. It is very hard to stop such a surge forward. Between hybridisations and experimentations. The strength and the ingenuity of the Earthships was to draw inspirations from many ideas which already existed in the world of ecological building to bring them all together in one and the same building. Here are the main outlines: click on the schemas to extend it.

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Thanks to the importance of the heat mass of the earth in the tyres, those walls make it possible to store the sun heat and to gradually redistribute it when the temperature starts to go down. When the house temperature becomes too high, the opening of the chimney enables the fresh air to go inside the house and push up the hot air which then flows out of the roof windows.

The rain water flowing on the roof is collected in big tanks. The grey waters if the shower and the sink are collected in the greenhouse to be filtered by the plants before ending in the toilets. The black waters then flow into a phyto-cleaning pool outside the house. An interesting alternative for the more resilient to dry toilets! Both installations feed six batteries which can provide power to the house even when the weather is not favourable.

Earning the right to experiment. Today Earthships are all the go. But life has not always been a smooth ride for Michael Reynolds who has had to fight hard to be granted the permits needed to build. Today I try to go beyond the building codes. If in our society, it is rare to encourage the right to error, it is even less so in the building sector where the safety stakes are essential. Yet, the principle of precaution has become a synonym of inertia and a means for some big promoters to try and slow down the emerging new building methods which are less marketable.

Michael and his team are claiming that innovations can only emerge by taking the risk of making mistakes. In the courses they are dispensing in the Earthship Academy, they report, with some humour, their trials and their err-tests for instance, the first models had no separate hallway between the greenhouse and the living rooms.

But it was so hot and damp that Michael decided to build a wall between the greenhouse and the living part. So we had to introduce concrete in the beams and their foundations. Gradually using concrete became systematic. But that does not mean that nothing will ever change.

Is building ecological houses a more frightening weapon of mass destruction than bombs? Building another life. Earthship Biotecture Visitor center These houses are getting more and more popular with the public at large.

This year, more than 20, visitors came to the Earthship Biotecture visitor center! Today many of those who attend the Earthship Academy cannot find a job which means something for them in their sectors.

How much does an earthship cost? The cost of an Earthship varies according to the size of the building, the conditions of the building site, the materials used, etc. The fisrt possibility is the order. The building of a house took 5 months of work.

The total cost of the house amounted to euros , for some m2 links in french. The other option is self-building to adapt your Earthship to your wishes and to your wallet, too! Many people get their inspirations from the design and embark with volunteers under the principle of crowd building site. Even if the cost is considerably lower, there are elements which do come at a price, such as the bay windows, the energy system and the filtration of rain waters. A universal model?

Encouraged by their successes in the Western world, Mike and his team want to share their know-how in the poorest countries especially following natural disasters in the Philippines, in Haiti, in Malawi… by developing the cheapest Earthship models. Yet Phil admits to us that there are limits to such an approach. I would prefer to stay on site longer to understand the culture, observe the climate, identify the local materials available much better… But I do not know whether Earthship Biotecture can do it one day.

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It would be an illusion to believe that there is one optimum accommodation type, adaptable whatever to any and all places! The good ideas are there to be taken up, adapted according to the climate, resources, financial means, culture, etc… More and more hybrid houses appear and it is most probably the future! Click on the arrows to see the slider pictures. Et pourquoi pas les pneus? Chaque jour millions de pneus sont produits dans le monde. Construire une autre vie. Pour aller plus loin :. Un chantier de construction participatif en Dordogne. If in the USA the general trend is to build quite impressive concrete villas rather than small straw houses, there is in this country a very dynamic movement to build differently.

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The idea behind it all was to find the time to get to know one another, to exchange ideas and techniques so that they could all progress in their practices and for a collective dynamic to emerge. It was a great anniversary to celebrate the progress of the movement, but also to take time to think about the challenges still ahead. Millions of people in this country are not happy with their way of life which goes against their ethics and creates global problems.


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What they do not know, however, is how to go about it to change it all. So our job is to offer solutions and one of those is to have a smaller and more comfortable house. In the evening, presentations on the more global stakes refer to the legal battles around construction codes, or analyse the natural building potential to try and keep climate change in check…. Although the schedule was already quite full, some participants decide to set up discussion circles amongst themselves on the various strategies to spread natural building to the public at large.

When the participants left, they had already decided to meet again for yet another colloquium in planned for October in Quail Springs, New Mexico. Let us bet that by then the movement will have increased! As far as we are concerned, after a year and a half of shooting various projects in different countries, this colloquium just confirmed our intuition: there is a world movement which wants to know all its members to become stronger.

Like all the others, we also leave with new energy to carry on with our investigation! Thanks to Owen Geiger and David Eisenberg for puting us in touch with this great network!