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earthships

earthships

I'm not really sure what to make of these things.

You may have seen them in the popular press or doting the landscape northwest of Taos, NM.  Started in the early 1970's by Michael Reynolds, these experiments in radical sustainability are called Earthships and though centered in the high desert in New Mexico, their prototypes have been adapted and built in every state of the US.  Long before "green" building was in vogue, these house were the first sustained experiments in living off the grid, using recycled materials and proto-"green" construction.

http://earthship.com/

Michael Reynolds was the first architect that was largely responsible for  many of these buildings and certainly the dominant philosophy behind the work.  Most of the homes are made from earth-filled tires creating extremely dense thermal masses allowing the buildings to remain warm in winter and fight off the unrelenting summer sun of the high desert.

These are not simple some early 1970's hippy creations, but an ongoing community with houses available for nightly rentals, construction workshops and a growing international outreach.  You will be hard-pressed to find anything in the architectural press about these buildings other than some notations about their technical difficulties and achievements.  Little or nothing is found about the strange formal qualities that are remarkable consistent in at least the Taos-based homes.  If anyone knows of any discussion of style and form of these buildings let me know.  Short of some bad sci-fi movies, I can't seem to place the look and feel of these places.