Guest Blog: Modern Architecture and Design Society (MA+DS)
Anyone who has spent any time in the “modern” space knows that “green” has been a buzzword for years. Green Energy, green building, green materials, recycled, upcycled – the list seems endless as architects, builders, designers and manufacturers are working overtime to create new and amazing efficiencies in materials and products.
But what if it’s not just new technology, but low-impact, basic building and design theories from over 1,000 years ago, combined with sheer determination to reduce waste that are the ultimate expression of the modern green lifestyle?
Michael Reynolds, creator of the Earthship ™ has been putting this idea to the test since 1969, and his mission statement reflects the founding principles that speak to the very core of the green movement:
The challenge is to specifically design and build homes that…
- Heat and cool themselves naturally via solar/thermal dynamics
- Collect their own power from the sun and wind
- Harvest their own water from rain and snow melt
- Contain and treat their own sewage on site
- Produce a significant amount of food
- Are constructed using the byproducts of modern society like cans, bottles and tires.
Now consider that Reynolds dedicated himself to these ideals before “recycling” was even part of the popular vernacular, and you start to see just how revolutionary the Earthship concept really is.
So what IS an Earthship?
An Earthship is a home that reflects the modern green movement in a variety of ways, but for most of us, it’s the “high-touch” part of the dwelling that’s the most interesting. Earthships reflect the local Taos aesthetic – and that means adobe – perhaps the very first “ultra green” building material. 100% natural, and with great thermal insulating qualities, an adobe house was green a millennium before “green” existed.
Then, add one part ultra-efficient solar power, a state-of-the-art 4-cycle reclaimed water system, interior food production (not much grows in winter in Taos!) and the aforementioned nearly obsessive dedication to repurposing and viola’ – you have an Earthship.
And honestly, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Not the sleek glass and steel look that screams modern, but a true, natural beauty that reflects the ancient land and sky of Northern New Mexico, all in a package that easily competes with the very latest in energy efficiency and impact.
Building the ultimate green, low impact home is where it all started, but the people at Earthship Biotecture aren’t content with simply creating homes – they’re on a mission.
To that end they created the Earthship Academy – a one-month long, hands-on Earthship experience where attendees learn everything from the basics of wiring a house to the the final process by which recycled bottles become the artistic “bricks” that can be used to embellish the interior walls during the build process. And, in embracing the most modern of travel trends and eco tourism, you can even rent an Earthship for a night or two and enjoy Taos in the most eco-friendly way possible!
Is an Earthiship for everyone? Probably not. But when we toured the community, we came away amazed at the methodology and the sheer effectiveness of the idea – and more convinced that ever that “modern” isn’t just a design choice, but a way of life that really can change the world.
The Modern Architecture + Design Society produces architecture and design events across North America.