Many of our readers have probably heard of that mystical architectural creature called the Earthship. Pioneered by American architect Michael Reynolds, the Earthship is a type of dwelling that uses rammed earth, recycled tires, glass and passive solar heating to create a self-sustaining environment. Often self-built without the need for specialized skills or high-tech tools, it's the type of home that's not only affordable, but also (literally) down-to-earth.
Beyond its initial appearance in Taos, New Mexico, there are now a growing number of Earthships around the world that can be rented out as temporary accommodations for the curious. For those curious souls living near Quebec, Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives (previously) give this tour of Terrasol, a mini-earthship that's available for short-term stays in the eco-community of Terra Perma, located in Harrington, about two hours away from Montréal:
According to the Terra Perma website, Terrasol was built under the supervision of students who have trained at the Earthship Biotecture Academy, the New Mexico-based institution founded by Reynolds. More than 200 tires and 400 glass bottles were reused in the project. Danielle notes that the surface area of the glazed portion of the mini-earthship is a little bit larger than 30 percent of the floor area. This is more than the general rule-of-thumb that most Earthships follow in order to ensure a comfortable and steady interior temperature throughout the day, as more glazing means more heat building up from incoming sunlight. To mitigate this effect, a pipe has been installed that funnels heated air from the interior to the berm behind the small Earthship, cooling it before returning it back into the space.
Like other typical earthships, this smaller version has its glass facade facing south, to maximize solar gain and to allow the thermal mass of the earth surrounding the home on three sides to store and slowly release heat throughout the day. This is one of the basic principles of Earthship design: to utilize and shape what's naturally and abundantly available -- soil -- in conjunction with recycled materials to create a home that is structurally solid and is cheaper to heat than a conventional stick-framed house. Guests can also use solar-powered outlets to charge their devices.
Beyond this mini-earthship, the non-profit organization of Terra Perma might be interesting to visitors too: Terra Perma's aim is to build a "residential and eco-entrepreneur permaculture community" within a 200-acre Forest Park that its foundation manages. Similar to a tech startup ecosystem, Terra Perma offers an incubator that provides advice and micro-financing to eco-innovators who want to launch permaculture-related business ideas. To find out more, visit Terra Perma and Exploring Alternatives; you can also book the Terrasol mini-earthship to stay in here.
[Via: Tiny House Talk]