The draw of Earthships isn’t solely their looks; these DIY palaces of green living are driven by eco-tech and steered by environmental responsibility. Self-sustained living is not accomplished by magic. Earthships are reliant on their owners regular maintenance of their life-support systems. Sound geeky? The technology behind these amazing houses has more in common with Frank Herbert’s Dune novels than with that of any currently being used in homes today.
If Walls Could Talk
(images via Earthship Landing)
If a home is as strong as its foundation and walls allow it to be, an Earthship is nearly indestructible. Load-bearing walls are made using old automobile-tires packed tightly with rammed earth, or cob, as it’s known. These bricks, along with more cob mortar, make a wall several feet thick that would be nearly impossible to penetrate, or even disturb. Non-load-bearing walls by contrast are made using glass bottles as bricks and cement as mortar, making for excellent sound-damping and temperature moderation. The house itself is set into the ground, to allow for better temperature continuity; the home remains cool during the day and warm at night.
Many Approaches, Singular Goal
(images via Earthship Ireland, Earthship Biotecture)
Cardinal orientation plays as large a role as the structure itself in the never-ending battle with the ambient temperature. Earthships are built to face the sun more in either the morning or evening, depending on the severity of climate in the region. While the rear wall is an enormous berm, the front is a long windowed vista, allowing for a greenhouse effect. Buried deep within the rear of the home is the cistern. Earthships keep a nominal supply of water on hand using these, along with various other methods of water-catching and reclamation. No sewage lines are required as the house vents all “gray water” deep into the surrounding soil after filtration, which in turn fertilizes miniature gardens that help recycle air in the home. Solar panels and wind-turbines provide as much power as needed, and batteries store enough to get through bad weather. These amazing homes are aptly named indeed, since they are entirely self-sufficient capsules in their earthly environs. It’s only icing on the cake that they happen to be so dramatic in their appearance, which appeals to the aesthetic in all of us.