News Home & Design The ARCA House Is an Earthship-Inspired Dwelling for Brazil's Tropical Forests This streamlined structure is inspired by earthships and by the homes of local indigenous peoples. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 14, 2021 01:31PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Victor Affaro News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Earthships: you may or may not have heard of them, but these dwellings are a type of passive solar structures that are typically made with Earth, as well as recycled materials like tires and glass bottles. Pioneered by American architect Michael Reynolds, the concept behind earthships is that they are designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, relying on the thermal mass of earth-based construction to help regulate indoor temperatures, as well as using renewable energy options like solar power, while also incorporating some kind of rainwater harvesting and at-home food production. Besides the U.S., the idea of earthships has caught on in places like Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe, South America, and Africa—and could very well be one potential solution to transforming waste into sustainable building materials. Near the Perequé waterfall in one of Brazil's national parks, Parque da Bocaina, architect Marko Brajovic has built a reinterpreted earthship of sorts, designed for the tropical environs of the Atlantic Forest ecoregion. It's not an earthship by traditional design, but earthships inspired the house. Victor Affaro Named the ARCA House, the structure doesn't have rammed earth in it per se, and it looks something like a cross between a metal-shelled aircraft hangar and a futuristic barn, but as Brajovic explains, it's inspired by traditional structures built by local indigenous peoples: "ARCA was named by the locals as it came as a ship in the middle of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. If fact, on a more anecdotic level, it’s an earthship project, that comes from a wish to mimic a specific Brazilian indigenous house typology (Asurini, Médio Xingu) and be a stand alone object with minimal impact to the surrounding." Victor Affaro The ARCA House is a two-bedroom residence that can be rented by one or two couples and their children for the weekend, or for a nature-infused getaway or professional workshop. Its 1,400-square-foot interior includes a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, and open space that could be used for meetings, or creative ateliers. Atelier Marko Brajovic In addition, the bedrooms are flexible spaces that can be transformed into temporary "production rooms" by converting the beds into couches. Victor Affaro Thanks to the use of Galvalume (a durable and oxidization-resistant combination carbon steel, aluminium, and zinc) its the ARCA House's interior is intended to be a streamlined structure, as its roof, sidewalls, and finishes are integrated into one smoothly arcing and self-supporting form, thus minimizing its impact on the site, as well as construction waste. Its more open, glazed facades maximize natural cross-ventilation, so no air conditioning is needed. Any wastewater produced by inhabitants will be processed with a biodigester. Says Brajovic: "The house was built from top down, as tropical architecture suggests; the roof was set up first and then the rest of the house was built under it. [..] After the shelter was built, the wooden deck was installed and then we conceived the interior of the house. With those functional parameters completed, taking into a account environmental inputs, such as wind, sunlight and views, we de ned the orientation and the final interior design." Victor Affaro The timber components of the interior walls are only 1.18 inches thick, as they are internally reinforced by steel bars that put those parts of the structure in compression. Victor Affaro According to the architect, the home's modules were set up in only one week, and are designed to be easily disassembled and rebuilt on a new site if needed. The idea is to provide a place for professionals and families to recharge in the beauty of nature while staying in an earthship-inspired dwelling that is optimized for the tropical forest of this region. To see more, visit Atelier Marko Brajovic, Instagram, and here to rent the ARCA House.