19 February 2011

Mike Reynolds - Earthships

An old classmate of my wife's has been in New Mexico for many years building houses out of recycled materials with Mike Reynolds. I have never been very interested with their work, because Mike's philosophy is anti-urban, however this past year they have started work in Haiti, and their proposal is to build denser clusters of these self-sustaining "earthships". Now I am interested. We just rented the movie "Garbage Warrior" from the library. It is a documentary about their struggle to be allowed to legally build houses without water, sewer and electric supplies. It is fascinating, and I hope to be able to go out west next year and visit.


ThatDeborahGirl said...

Funny, I was just thinking about this subject earlier. Anyone who's read a Little House on the Prairie book knows that at one time, you had the right to build yourself a basic structure on land you owned or claimed. Try to build so much as a shed without a permit these days and you get fined.

And it boggles my mind that we've made one of man's basic needs- shelter- illegal without permission from the government.

CityKin said...

There is nothing cooler than builidng your own home, and better yet to build it in such an organic creative way.

Anonymous said...

Backwards evolution.
Caves are next?

Anonymous said...

Those pod structures look awful dark, and in Haiti, I bet they are unbearably hot.

Todd McFarland said...

I spent a night in Taos about 10 years ago with Phil and Sara and was amazed at the simplicity and functionality of these structures. I can't wait to watch this. Thanks for the great post.

Rick Calkins said...

I like the mention of Reynolds being anti urban. On some levels, urban areas protect rural ones by containing population sprawl. Mike seems aware of the almost continuum this creates.

I'm thinking it was about 15 years ago when Solar Survival Architecture was beginning its Greater World community in Taos County. For the first year or so, the land trust was spacing improvements with each house sitting on more than an acre. To get to these houses, a drive through an abandoned gravel pit was necessary. It wasn't a quarry. It was just an impression (maybe 15' below the rest of the mesa) that looked like a land scar yet offered protection from some of the wind and weather. I'd come out there once a year and watch the Greater World evolve from a tent community to one of permanent, creative and sustainable housing. "This would be even better," I'd think, "If that pit wasn't here."

I showed up the following year, and people were building small earthships in the gravel pit. I'm sure I scoffed at the idea. There were all these little parcels laid out (almost like row houses) right on top of each other. The next year, a half a dozen of these homes were completed and occupied. More were underway. The buildings were clustered together. The gravel pit suddenly looked intentional. Reynolds had turned the community's liability into an asset while modeling a template for sustainability.

The Haitian Project is further genius. Earthship Biotecture (formerly SSA) is teaching the world how to live in population clusters that leave more common space for the everyone. And, Reynolds compares the spread of his Haitian Project to a virus. He might be a little anti urban.