Topic: Earthships: Space Age housing with a primitive quirk
This architectural style was first envisioned by Mike Reynolds in the 1970s, who saw the immense drawbacks of suburbia. In time, he thought of a way to create housing that could be sustainable to it's surrounding environment, off-grid, easy to construct by using common throwaway items, and aesthetically interesting. And from there on, a inspiring vision for the future was born.
All earthships are sprawled out into a horseshoe shape to achieve impressive natural lighting, and to retain heat during winter months. The walls are comprised of earth-filled tires, each of which can weigh up to 300 pounds. However, almost any dense material could be used, like adobe, concrete, or stone. With the tires, the homes are essentially fireproof, since the immense amount of dirt doesn't burn like plastic or wood. Placed between the tires are a honeycomb grid of glass and metallic bottles, which are plastered with stucco. This allows the house to maintain a stable internal temperature, similar to underground dwellings.
Water from snowmelt, rain and condensation chunnel off of the roof and into a cistern, which goes through a water purification module that makes it safe for drinking. It is used for everything besides toilets, which is derived from greywater. This water passes through a mechanical botanical cell (a mixture of gravel and plant roots), and then goes through peat moss to be collected in a reservoir.
Electricity is derived from photovoltaic panels and wind turbines situated on the house, or nearby. DC energy is produced and then stored in deep cell batteries, though it is recommended to keep a gasoline backup generator in case of emergencies or shortages.
Potential advantages, copied from Wikipedia, as with most things:
Having an earth-bermed home with windows facing the sun is a good idea in any climate where heating is required.
Collecting rainwater that falls on the roof reduces the runoff impact of the building and may reduce water and even sewer service fees.
Having a combination of photovoltaic cells and wind generation is a prudent way to provide electricity in many situations.
Using curved modules as horizontal arches to resist earth loads is a sound structural design.
On-site processing of runoff water, grey water, and black water using plant beds reduces the environmental impact of the building.
Rubber tires make a wind- and puncture- resistant wall. They may be safe from outgassing when plastered semi-airtight.
Rubber tires are usually free and it may be possible to be paid to take them. It also is beneficial to keep them out of landfills or prevent them from being illegally burnt.
Potential to eliminate utility bills.
The structure is highly moldable to different aesthetic tastes.
Official company website: http://earthship.com/
Documentary on Michael Reynolds and the company's history:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrMJwIedrWU
Internal tour of a generic home:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6pSQ48ZpD0