Earthship Houses

Michael Reynolds, Tire Houses, Building With Earth, Recycled Materials, Passive Solar, Thermal Mass

For thousands of years, people have been building shelters from recycled materials, such as dirt, rocks, sticks and logs. Earth-sheltered homes, such as caves, dugouts and soddies, have taken advantage of the ability of dirt to stabilize the temperature inside an earth sheltered home. Now comes a building system that blends the use of recycled materials with the temperature modifying ability of earth sheltered houses. Michael Reynolds, a 1970s building guru and architect, coined the phrase Earthships to define his energy-efficient house designs. Using recycled tires, recycled tin cans and recycled bottles as his basic building mateiral, Reynolds clad the outside of his recycled materials structures with adobe mud. These passive solar Earthship homes can be built by unskilled builders willing to get their hands dirty and give their muscles a good workout. Recycled tire houses and tin can houses cost less than standard stick built homes because most of the building materials are free and the outer layer of adobe mud usually comes from the area around the house. The adobe covered house with it's thick recycled-material walls allows these Earthship homes to be heated and cooled naturally due to the thermal mass of the house, which slowly traps and releases the sun's warmth.

Michael Reynolds

arizona earthshipEarthship Homes: Affordable, Energy-Efficient Building By Tim Knipe 

Architect Michael Reynolds uses tires and aluminum cans to create Earthships, energy-efficient homes that retain solar energy in their thermal mass walls. With this technique, you can build an affordable house with little homebuilding expertise.

Houses Made of Recycled Materials By Steve Winston 

Frustrated with the existing home construction system, New Mexico architect Mike Reynolds decided to specialize in houses made of recycled materials, such as tin cans, glass bottles and recycled tires.

Michael Reynolds' Energy Efficient Buildings By Jeannette Brown 

Mike Reynolds uses both natural and recycled materials — plus imaginative design — to build passive solar homes on the mesas of New Mexico. 

Earthships: The Power of Unconventional Ideas By Bryan Welch 

More than 30 years ago, Michael Reynolds followed his vision of sustainable, energy-efficient homes that would work with nature. Today, his Earthships inspire green designers and architects.

Building With Earth and Recycled Materials

tin can houseAn Earthship in Manhattan? By Robyn Griggs Lawrence 

Ken Ruck wants to build a fully self-sustaining earthship on New York's Lower East Side. 

Building an Earthship for Off-the-Grid Living By Ellen Craig 

Recycled tires and rammed-earth walls make this passive solar style of home building efficient, sturdy and relatively cheap. 

Building with Earth By Dan Chiras 

Homes made from natural, earthen materials are affordable, comfortable, sustainable and enduring, including the pros and cons of adobe, cob, rammed-earth and soil-filled recycled tire techniques. 

Building an Earthship Home By Tim Rhodes 

After being inspired by a MOTHER EARTH NEWS article, a construction company built their first passive solar, recycled tire Earthship. 

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