The science behind earthships

Date:10 October 2019 Author: Adrian Brown Tags:, , , , ,

The concept of homes and housing has changed a lot over the years. As the human race adapts so does our demands for different technologies, fittings and designs in our homes. The concept of the earthship, however, is questioning the modern way of living and instead offer the idea of entirely self-sustaining living, where your home provides for itself and you.

It may seem like a strange concept but it is one that uses the basics of nature and science to bring about a harmonious lifestyle connected with the earth.

Pioneered by American architect, Michael Reynolds, the earthship was envisioned to gift humanity the power of self-reliance where their homes protect and care for the environments around them rather than the more common scenario of constant renovation and upkeep that homes are often associated with.

An earthship inspired by Reynolds’ design.


The earthship concept is based on sustainable technologies and recycled materials that allow the home to generate its own food, water and electricity while adapting to the climate around it through passive techniques employed within its structure.

Glass bottles embedded in the walls allow for another level of affordability, add a touch of colour and increase heat regulation as well.

Since Reynolds’ design received recognition around the world, more and more earthships have popped up and the trend has been growing ever since.

When an earthship is built, recycled materials such as rubber tires, aluminum cans, glass bottles and other waste are built into the structure, giving them a second life.

To bring all the components together large amounts of earth or adobe bricks are used, this adds a thermal quality to the surfaces of the ship.

Once the earthship is constructed, its environment plays a huge role in the final touches. The Geo-climatic context is considered greatly, from the slopes of the land to the orientation, heat gain and loss, right down to the exact layout of each window for optimum functionality.

A diagram showing the various sustainable fittings of an earthship.

Reynolds describes earthships as vessels and as such they are equipped with a number of systems which allows them to capture water to be reused, generate electricity both solar and kinetic, cultivate food and treat sewage.

Plants grown inside the earthship are watered by recycled water rerouted from showers and basins inside the earthship. They are also used to regulate the temperature inside the home while reusing nutrients from the flushed toilet.

His work shows a clear move away from the practices of urban authorities and towards a better performance of architectural prototypes.

These creations are not only logical and sustainable but beautiful as well. Earthships can be completely customised to suit their owners’ style and needs.

The level of sustainability is also up to the owner from reusing old pieces of other homes to giving used furniture a new home or even fitting a composting toilet.

A beautiful earthship.


Living Big in a Tiny House recently took a tour of an earthship. Here’s a peak inside one:


Pictures: Facebook/Muellers Felix/ Living big in a Tiny House/

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