It all started in the late sixties begin seventies of last century. A young architect Michael Reynolds was concerned with all the waste being produced and the ongoing oil crisis of those days.
He first started experimenting building with cans. He later added tires rammed with earth as a new building block. This technique was not new since there are pictures of these kind of walls built by farmers in the US dating back to 19351.
Thermal mass and passive solar housing was a movement that was ongoing in the USA of the seventies, and still is. This movement even takes it one step further than Reynolds does. So nothing new under the sky. Nevertheless, the massive tire walls combined with enough glazing could be used as thermal mass by Reynolds in his earthship.
Birth of the earthship
Combining all these techniques and adding water catchment and energy production slowly led to the earthship we now know. The first can buildings where hut types and so where the first rammed tire buildings.
This gradualy moved on to U-shaped and combinations of both. Add the greenhouse and the modular earthship was born.
Another model was the packaged model. A rectangular building with the south side glazed and the rest bermed in with soil.
Combining the ideas of the modular models with greenhouse with the packaged model without a greenhouse led to the birth of the Global model.
Since about 2007 this is the model mostly built by Reynolds and his company Earthship Biotecture.
In the earthship there where more than just evolutions in the models.
Improvements, often on a trial and error base, where made gradually on different parts of the earthship. Some of them are:
- The kinds of roofing materials advised was changed a few times
- The filtering of grey and black water has been undergoing sometimes drastic changes
- Insulation behind the wall became part of the building for colder climates
The volumes I to III by Michael Reynolds where all published in the nineties of last century. His major evolutions took place in this century. This all makes the Volumes I to III less usable in a Do It Yourself situation, because some of it simply won't work in your situation.
So make sure to dig deeper than just those three books when planning on doing an earthship the DIY way. You wouldn't be the first that gets into trouble.
1. Source: http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/tirestart.htm