Have you always wanted to live in an earthship? How about a straw bale house? Whether you have a great deal of knowledge about these different styles of homes, or you never heard of them before, they are quite interesting to behold. People have been building homes out of natural materials in their pure forms throughout history. There has been a resurgence of interest in alternative housing styles in recent years. People are getting back to the fundamentals of nature, as well as wanting to reduce their carbon footprint in various ways. Recent years have shown more innovative design plans being implemented all of the time.
A close look at the different types of housing that are commonly built today is important. Now that advances have been made in finding materials that are more durable and cost effective, it is an increasingly distinct possibility to have an off-the-grid home. There are many factors that play a part in this trends. Groups are forming to discuss and find solutions to make it a reality for more individuals and families. All around the world, this trend is quickly on its way to skyrocketing.
One Man’s Earthship Story
Stuart Simmons of Durango, Colorado spent $62,000 for 55 acres of land near Durango. He was determined to build a home that was off the grid. The determining factor for the land he ended up choosing was that it was south facing. Having a south facing home is crucial, because it is necessary to have enough sun for heating the home and using solar energy.
His next step was to gather his building components. The main material that he used was dirt-packed tires. It is a strenuous process to pound the earth into the tires. It takes about 15 minutes to a half hour for each one. Once they are packed, they are laid down like bricks in a U-formation facing south. Simmons ended up with 10 rows of tires by the time he and his team had finished. He also collected aluminum cans, another major building component. The internal walls that are non-structural are made using the cans. They must be placed together with concrete in order to hold up well. Electric wiring and plumbing are run through the wall of cans.
An important part of Simmons’ earthship is the Greenhouse. The Greenhouse is kept above a temperature of 60 degrees throughout the entire year, which contributed to the home being kept just as warm. It is necessary for the tires to be stacked at least as high as the frost line for the area.
Earthships have faced much controversy over the past several decades. Michael Reynolds, creator of the earthship home model, has faced many years of frustration with government officials over receiving permits for building earthships. The government does not want to take risks with the newer models instead of sticking with the long established ones. It can take a lot of work to win the officials over and get the go ahead on your building permit. While the list of benefits to the environment and individuals is extremely long, it is not feasible and attractive to the government.
Straw Bale Houses – the Canelo Project
Bill and Athena Steen are running The Canelo Project in southeastern Arizona. This project was founded in 1989. This center for learning, research, cultural events, and demonstration has gained a large following. The Steens have developed small scale building designs that consist of straw bale and a clay wall systems, along with clay and lime plasters. The inside houses a beautiful array of natural wonders. Some of these include sculptural wall carvings, clay ovens, and earthen floors.
There is a wide array of housing and other structures that have been built out of these materials. These include guest housing for workshop attendees and other guests, woodworking shops, materials and tool storage sheds, a classroom, paint shed, and outdoor shower. It has all been designed with the utmost beauty, function, and usage of natural resources possible. It is obvious the Steens are people who truly care about the environment and the community. They show considerable passion for creating and preserving beautiful items of cultural and artistic value.
Geodesic Domes Are a Marvel
Geodesic domes are models for housing, greenhouses, storage facilities, and more. Another name that is commonly used for them is biodomes. They are an optimal shape and design, which is virtually indestructible in its basic nature. These structures are ideal for regions in which there is a great deal of seismic activity and other disastrous natural phenomena. They can vary in purpose and the systems that are used. One of the more popular styles features ultraviolet lights pointing upwards into the dome’s inner surface. There also is a water system that maintains optimal humidity conditions to reduce the potential for sickness. Other features include a private computer terminal, and the possibility of high occupancy housing within the biodome.
The crop and farm biodomes are also quite popular. An important features of these is irrigation of nutrient-rich water from composting toilets to the crops. Another is the farm animals such as cows and chickens that produce manure and urine to be included in the fertilizers for the crops. Biodome restaurants are truly a revolutionary type of facility. The usually labor intensive task of dishwashing is turned into a much easier task, due to ultraviolet light ridding the items of bacteria and the ultrasonic waves vibrating to break off the food particles. Another advantage of such restaurants is that it is far more beneficial to prepare food in centralized locations for many homes than it is to outfit the homes with kitchens. All of these designs have been proposed by Slide Lock Systems of Wisconsin, Inc.
A Bright Outlook for the Future with Numerous Options
Home designs that are environmentally friendly and people friendly include the traditional earth berm, underground homes, cobb houses, adobe dwelling and many others. It can only be assumed that as time goes by, these existing models will be improved. It is expected that others will join their ranks. We are coming into a new way of thinking and serious changes within society. It is no wonder that where and how people live is changing right along with the times. When we look to our surroundings for how to design our homes and other aspects of our lives, we only stand to benefit.