As some of you may have noticed, Eliza has been going a bit batty for Earthships. As some of you may have not noticed, she sneaked a very real hyperlink into her last very imaginative post. That link led to a website, where we discovered that Earthships are actually attainable–film icons and mad scientists not included.
Earthships are the brainchild of architect Michael Reynolds, who has been designing these zany, off-the-grid structures since the early nineties. The homes are made to be hyper autonomous, with no external energy or water sources needed. They even come equipt with greenhouses, extending their self sufficiency into food production. How do these Star Wars-esque space pod-meets-desert drone structures do all this? The key is solar energy, but not just the electricity-producing kind. Passive solar–as in literally just the passive soaking up of sunlight–regulates the climate in an Earthship. See those huge slanted window-walls? You get the idea. We’re pretty sure they had something to do with growing those delicious looking artichokes, too.
Earthships are horseshoe-shaped to soak up as much rays as possible, and the three-foot-thick inner walls provide insulation like none other, using the regulatory powers of good ‘ol dirt to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Those walls are ten giant steps beyond having a recycling bin in the office: the inner walls are made from earth-filled used tires, and the outer walls are honeycombed post-consumer tin cans and beer bottles.
An internal irrigation system collects and filters rainwater for drinking, showers, laundry and sinks, and the resulting gray water is refiltered and dripped into planters. No city water bills, and no energy spent pumping water from far and wide through elaborate piping. Simply brilliant.
While there are a number of Earthships in every state and 15 countries, Reynolds has set up a testing-ground village of Earthships–sixty of them–under the most pressing of conditions. Taos, New Mexico is no easy place to live. The arid, flat, high-altitude desert bakes at 110+ degrees in the summer and freezes in the winter, and rains are few and far between. But these magical ships remain a comfy 70 degrees, have minuscule carbon footprints, and, to one surprised journalist, simultaneously double as “beautiful exercises in aesthetic architectural design.”
Well, we’re sold. Suppose we’ll start building in Central Park!