As a present for his graduation from Joplin HS, I took my brother-in-law and his friend out west (Texas, New Mexico, Colorado). We saw several cool places, but he specifically wanted to stay in an Earthship near Taos, New Mexico. So, we set off on the long drive, stopping along the way to see Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, TX, Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, NM, and historic Santa Fe. Just northwest of Taos, NM across the Rio Grande Gorge bridge we came upon a community of very odd looking structures: Earthships, self-sustaining off-the-grid homes created by Michael Reynolds.
We approached the Earthship visitor center to check in and we were greeted by unique, spaceship-like buildings. Pop cans, glass bottles, and tires were slightly exposed in demonstrational structures and buildings still under construction. The buildings focus on utilizing recycled materials, minimizing resource use, increasing indoor environmental quality, and staying off the grid, all while creating exceptionally comfortable homes. The sustainable “biotecture” includes features like
- Solar panels and small wind turbines
- Passive Solar elements, thermal mass insulation, convective air circulation
- Rain water and snowmelt harvesting
- Grey water/black water filtration
- South-facing windows, indoor greenhouse space for air-purifying plants and potential food sources, etc..
The Earthship we stayed in was called The Euro, or Global 3-bedroom Model.
You can see the gorgeous biotecture, solar panels (photovoltaic and solar hot water), the vent boxes on the roof, and the south-facing windows. Many of the round/square decorations you see are glass bottles placed into the concrete/adobe/stucco.
Rooms were separated by additional doorways to control circulation. Ropes mechanically close or open the vent boxes.
No air conditioning necessary with this ingenious design. Vent boxes above the sun room and green house area help promote convective circulation as air tubes bring in air that is thermoregulated by the massive berm.
If you’re ever visiting northern New Mexico, consider staying in one of these relaxing homes!
Have you seen Earthships or other passive homes and green architecture in your neck of the woods?
Update: View my next post for more photos!