Earthship Makes Landfall in Nicaragua, Builds Home Out of Tires

Casa Llanta Earthship in Nicaragua Photo

Image via: Jessica Dore

In the San Juan Del Sur region of Nicaragua, the famed Earthship crew, along with 13 Nicaraguans from the local community, created the start of what will be entirely off-grid, sustainable community, titled Casa Llanta ("Tire House"). This is the first Earthship in Nicaragua and tipster Jessica Dore sent in her thoughts and impressions from her trip to this futuristic community.Earthships are the idea created by Michael Reynolds and installed by his crew of volunteers from Taos, New Mexico and around the globe. Essentially, they use materials that can be found in the community to build "cheap" homes, coupled with rainwater catchment systems, solar panels and other construction techniques to develop a community with the lightest footprint possible.

The community of San Juan Del Sur is a town populated by locals and beach bums interested in nothing more than surfing the local waves. The construction of the Earthship in an area that itself is already off-grid (not necessarily by choice) allowed the community to be exposed to a variety of sustainable concepts, but also to provide work force training. Many of the examples used in the Earthship model can be reproduced in houses throughout the community to provide natural heating without electricity and a more reliable water supply through rainwater catchment and storage for cooking and for growing crops. In addition, throwaway materials like tires, glass, plastic containers and aluminum cans are incorporated into construction, along with minimal construction materials like cement, for example, to create structures that are more easily reproduced.

As the name suggests tires are used to build the house to help passively heat and cool the structure. Since the roads are so bad, worn out and blown tires are easy to come by and make for good retaining walls around the Earthships. Besides having volunteers travel to Nicaragua to build Earthships, several locals were included in the construction process as well in hopes that they will then reproduce more Earthships and model the concepts in structures throughout the community. San Juan del Sur has recently undergone a massive population growth, partly due to the close proximity to beaches and the mountain vistas.

The project began back in December 2007 with preparation of materials, like packing tires with dirt as "bricks" and cutting/cleaning glass bottles. The building itself was not officially completed until August 2009, but the result is an 1800 square foot that is immune to common black-outs and water shortages. If you'd like to get involved with Earthships in your local community, or by volunteering internationally, check them out online at Earthship.

Thanks tipster Jessica!
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