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Earthships are sustainable shelters built from eco-friendly design usually with solar electricity, built by Earthship Biotecture founded by Michael Reynolds.

INDUSTRY EDGE

TECH & TRENDS

Tour The Inside Of An Earthship - And Rent It For A Night 

Being Inside The Eco-friendly Dwelling May Feel Like You Are In A Scene Of Star Wars, But The Detail And Autonomy Of The Structures Is Something To Marvel

The Corner Cottage earthship in Taos, New Mexico [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]

"This place seems to have a magnetic force on people,” says Rohan Sutherland, “And I think Michael settled here because of that.”  Sutherland works for Earthship Biotecture, the place he is talking about is Taos, New Mexico, and the Michael he is speaking of is Michael Reynolds, founder of Earthship Biotecture.  Reynolds was a motorcycle racer and spent some time riding his motorcycle throughout the United States.  He studied architecture and through his studies, “He realized that the architecture used is one of the major problems of the planet,” Sutherland explains.  Meaning, the houses and buildings that are built do not utilize the very free and renewable energies of the sun and the earth.  When he found Taos, a place that attracted a lot of artists and renegades, he stayed and started to experiment on sustainable living.  “Here they call New Mexico the Land of Entrapment,” chuckles Sutherland. 

Reynolds built the first Earthship in 1979.  This Earthship is still available for nightly rentals here. Nicknamed the “Hobbit House,” it is an eco-friendly dwelling that has solar electricity, sewage treatment, water catchment, on 5 acres of apple orchard in Taos, New Mexico.  Since the first Earthship has been built, techniques have been perfected and the homes have been adapted to meet a wide range of desires and climates.  There are also more complex homes available for rent on the Earthship website - 3 or 4 bedroom homes with greenhouses, fish ponds, and all sorts of amenities.  “Most people that stay in the Earthships are surprised by how much each is actually like a regular home - some with flat screen TVs, solar saunas, and more,” Sutherland says.

Solar panels that power the unique structures [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]
Fireplace inside The Phoenix Earthship [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]

The people interested in Earthships are diverse, from people that want to get away from the government and reject society to ones that just want to live sustainably off the grid.  The story of Sutherland coming to Earthship gives an example.  “I have always been interested in helping people, like finding volunteering opportunities, and, since I have three nationalities, I started working for international development dealing with NGOs, climate change, the UN, and things like that, “ Sutherland recalls.  Sutherland realized that a lot of his work, though, was marred with incompetence and corruption in the big companies and organizations he worked for.  “I started doing things on the side and got interested in permaculture,” he says, “and, while on a mission in Cameroon, I found an orphanage whose story and struggle really struck me.”  He decided to help them build a new center.  “I realized if we built a conventional center, it wouldn’t fit their needs for very long.  If I am there to just help get something started, they would need more help down the line.  I wanted to find something sustainable,” he recalls.  So he quit his job and, with his savings, he set out to learn about sustainable shelters in Africa and South America. 

He found and started working for Earthship and started building houses as he was learning about the process.  As mentioned, the most important aspect of an Earthship is the sun, unless you are in a tropical place where the sun is blocked, which Earthship Biotecture has worked out, too.  The houses are made out of native and recycled materials in the area.  In the northern desert of New Mexico, this means tires, cans, and mud.  

Michael Reynolds built the first Earthship in 1979 [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]
Leveling out tires for construction within Earthship design [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]
Greenhouse at the Euro Earthship home in Taos [Photo Credit: Earthship Biotecture]

Through Earthship, he found an architect, an engineer and other human resources to complete his dream in Cameroon.  “Last year, we completed the first building for the orphanage,” Sutherland says.  Now he lives in Taos in the Earthship community and takes care of the Academy.  The Earthship Academy is a month long course that teaches how to build the Earthships, as well as general philosophy.  It’s two weeks in the classroom and two weeks hands-on.  The Academy and the communities that form from the students are what give Sutherland his greatest joy.  “You get all sorts of people that come - people that work for the media, teachers, or people looking for a change after 20 years working in a field,” he says, “the one thing they all have in common, though, is they are in a transition and usually a personal one.”  The students stay together during the Academy and eat together, play music, and bond. 

Beyond the Academy, the nightly rentals, and concern for sustainability around the world, Earthship has a visitor center open year round outside of Taos that gives more information and tours of some Earthships homes that is definitely worth a visit any time one is visiting the magnetic lands of Northern New Mexico.


Andrew Malo

A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan.  He  enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming.  

Make Sure To Stay At:

Phoenix Earthship, a 5300 square foot building in New Mexico that is capable of housing 6 people, 8 max at $20 per extra person. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a large kitchen and living room and an interior jungle to enjoy.

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