Earthship Homes: An Off-Grid Housing Solution For Sustainable Living
Known as the homes for the ‘end days’, earthship homes are the answer to a living that requires minimal dependence on public utilities and depleting natural resources. A concept that was designed in the USA’s New Mexico in 1970s by architect Michael Reynolds has taken over the world with many constructing earthship homes especially places with extreme weather conditions.
So, what makes earthship homes a rage, a concept that is not only sustainable but also inexpensive.
Let’s take a look:
Earthship homes have over the years evolved from a hit and miss concept to more planned structure. These homes are not just sustainable when constructed but also while they are being built.
Six key features of an earthship home is:
*Thermal heating and cooling
*Solar and wind electricity
*Self-contained sewage treatment
*Built with natural and recycled materials
*Water harvesting and long-term storage
*Internal food production capability
These homes are constructed using natural and upcycled material, including earth-packed tyres. Designed in a shape of a horseshoe, the walls of these homes are made of discarded tyres filled with sledgehammer-rammed dirt. This makes them stronger to hold load. These tyres are then lined up and stacked for 8-10 ft height and then allowed to form a U shape.
For the walls that don’t have to bear the load are used making cans and bottled, spaced evenly and placed in a honey comb matrix and then cement is placed with hands to keep these walls standing.
The concrete roof of these homes is then covered with north-sloping layer of metal sheets to capture the rainwater, used for various purposes in the home. These homes also are equipped with greywater system that recycles shower water for food production and watering plants.
One of the key things to be kept in mind while constructing such homes is to see that they get maximum sun exposure. So, a south-facing home works the best.
One can also create a greenhouse effect, which can help accumulate buffer heat in cold conditions, making indoors warmer.
The Indian story
The concept is yet to gain popularity in India as there are only a few that have constructed such a home. The first one that came up was in 2009. Named Karuna Farms, India’s first earthship project is located at Kodaikanal. The project was developed by Alex Leeor of Brighton, the UK. For the project, he used about 800 tyres and truckloads of mud in a hillock location at Prakaspuram village, 15 km from the main city. The project is a fully-sufficient home that produces food in-house, uses rainwater for various purposes and electrified by the sun.
The second earthship-like home is of the Bollywood actor Abhay Deol. The actor who also does architecture has designed a home for himself in Goa. Although his home is not a complete earthship, many features in his property are inspired from these homes. These include solar panels, wind turbines to harness energy; and landscaping.