A first problem Reynolds encoutered at Zwolle was the fact that the underground wasn't stable enough and ground water levels do not permit digging in. So they started with making a huge concrete slab to built the earthship on.
Another thing that struck me in the design was the fact that the North side was opened for an entrance.
You can see the steps up indicating the earthship being higher than its surroundings - Photo: D. Verstappen
One of the co board members of Earthship Belgium passed me a mail from a woman who is deeply involved in earthship building in the Netherlands. She had visited earthship Zwolle and wrote this:
'Today I again looked at the earthship in Zwolle. This is because we wanted to know whether or not the building complied the winter warmth. It was cold and I was shown around by someone who has followed the project from the beginning to the end of the construction . Because of the cold it was closed to the public in winter.
He pointed me to the necessary errors in this building. Especially the high humidity in the Netherlands and the lack of sun in the winter has not been taken in account. The American model was not nearly enough to be applied to the Dutch climate.
Already within a short period, there is pretty much mould on the inside of the building. There are cracks in the cement around the tyres. There are some elements that, in the Netherlands, should not have been used in this way.This is actually the first winter and it does not comply . I'll let you know so that you may be able to take these factors into account. So that the building can be better.
To be honest, I think within one year it looks like a very decrepit building where no thought has been given to.'
In short the problems mentioned are:
- High humidity and lack of sun are not taken into account enough.
- Cold on the inside
- Mould on the inside of the building
- Cracks in the cement around the tyres
This is quite a list and it made me want to get in contact with someone from earthship Zwolle to have it all confirmed. After some mailing I finally got in contact with mr. Evertse from ROC Landstede: Life & Nature, Doepark Nooterhof Zwolle. The are the ones who run the teahouse in the earthship.
He confirmed me first hand and personally all that is menitioned above and I learned some more, like the water catchment not being used because of insufficient quality of water caused by falling leaves, the built in natural cooling room not complying to Dutch standards for a public building and the earthship being completly on grid!
His general idea was that, looking at ecological buildings, Europe has far more better solutions than building an earthship and that the building should have been adapted better to the Dutch climate by in cooperating local know how.