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Mike Reynolds Building the future


Mike Reynolds Building the future Eva Verkinova

Front cover image: Testing site, Taos, New Mexico (Trent Wolbe 2012)


CONTENTS MIKE REYNOLDS - ARCHITECT 6 Mike Reynolds bad boy of architecture CAN BRICK 9 Reynolds can brick became building

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material EARTHSHIP

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11 Reynolds ultimate sustainable bulilding, car tyres are used to build walls

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HUMANITARIAN WORK 13 Reynolds was invited to build a house in Andaman Islands EARTHSHIP BRIGHTON - BUILDING 15 First Earthship built in England by Low

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Carbon Trust Brighton EARTHSHIP FUNCTIONING 17 Earthship uses passive solar house principals WATER SYSTEM - DETAIL 20 Earthship collects the rainwater through the roof WOM 23 Water organising module filtrates the water

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MIKE REYNOLDS - ARCHITECT

REYNOLDS

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ike Reynolds is an American architect responsible for the invention and design of Earthship - radically sustainable building. Often described as a wide-eyed open visionary from the desert, full of uncompromising wisdom, aphorisms and poetry2 as well as one pointed, single minded, strongly focused and stubborn, revolutionary bad boy of architecture.3 After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1969 with a degree in architecture Reynolds realised that architecture as it stood was worthless, had nothing to do with the planet and barely to do with the people and their needs in times of energy crisis in early 1970 in the USA. As a result he became a critic of architecture due to its lack of interest to address environmental issues as well as being part of the problem. Reynolds strongly believes that it is possible to build the way that will take a pressure of the planet and take care of the people and intervene with nature. He calls this way of building Biotecture.4 After his graduation Reynolds purchased a piece of land in Taos, New Mexico which allowed him to freely build and experiment. His solution was to design a building made mostly with waste materials - initially cans and bottles, but later principally old car tyres. The aim was to take full advantage of natural phenomenas: earth, sun, wind and rain.5

MIKE

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Figure 1: Mike Reynolds (Trent Wolbe 2012)

...Michael Reynolds is a self-described “guy who’s trying to do some sustainable housing for the future.” 1

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REYNOLDS

Figure 2 : Reynolds in the 1970s thinking and writing in his journal, DOCUMERICA (David Hiser)

COMING OF FOUR WIZARDS When Reynolds arrived to Taos, he became interested in pyramids. He built his own pyramid on top of his house and used it as a space to sleep and relax in. He began to have ‘intense experiences, dreams, instances of automatic writing, and outright visions. He explains : “My work as an architect/ builder began to reflect what was happening to me. The earth became a sacred place that I wanted human life

Figure 4 : R.E.A.CH community Taos, New Mexico (Adam Vaughan 2015)

R.E.A.CH COMMUNITY to embrace rather than exploit. I set about trying to achieve this for myself and others. I became focused on developing self-sufficient housing made from recycled materials using energy from the sun and wind.”5 He published a book called “A coming of Wizards” and it contains a mixture of autobiographical material, visions and writhing on architecture, psychology, physics, religion and energy6.

THUMB HOUSE A long series of experiments followed Reynolds visions. At first making structures using mainly beer cans and cement. In 1972 Reynolds build his first house called “ Thumb house” named after its unusual shape of thumb. Seventy thousand beer cans were used to build the structure.

MIKE

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‘These materials are indigenous to the entire planet,” he tells Business Insider. “Everywhere you go, they’re present.”7

Figure 3 : Thumb house, Taos, New Mexico , DOCUMERICA (David Hiser)

This way of building attracted like minded people that joined and shared his passion for sustainable building and created his own subdivision community living off the grid called R.E.A.CH. Reynolds was commissioned to build these experimental houses for ordinary people as well as some Hollywood stars. Over time disillusioned buyers filed lawsuits and complaints over defects such as leaky roofs and inadequate climate control. Reynolds failed to provide repairs due to their experimental nature. Spurred by the many claims against Reynolds, the State Architects Board of New Mexico stripped him of his credentials, saying his home designs were illegal and unsafe. In 1990, Reynolds gave up his New Mexico architecture and construction licenses after a year-long dispute with several clients. His national license revoked a year later. The feature documentary “Garbage Warrior” shows Reynolds journey on getting legal permission to create a testing site for his sustainable housing that might not comply with regulations. Regardless - popularity in Reynolds building is growing due in part to Reynolds’ philosophy, which is to “put housing back into the hands of the people” especially in times of climate change.8

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CAN BRICK The concept of beer can bricks came to Reynolds from the news report showing abundance of garbage especial beer cans. Six cans wired together, insulated with aluminium foil or cement.

Figure 5 : Reynold’s Can Brick, DOCUMERICA (David Hiser)


REYNOLDS

EARTHSHIP Radically sustainable housing concept

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MIKE

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fter 20 years of trial and error, Reynolds eventually learned through experience the correct ways to improve his structures. He felt his shelters were at their most widely-consumable point in their development. Reynolds called it Earthship. It can be described as a holistic and practical approach to sustainable architecture, which incorporates waste materials, earthen materials, and renewable energy sources into a sustainable and self-sufficient home. Interfacing with the planet’s natural phenomena, the sun, the wind, the thermal mass of the earth, the rain functions off-grid. Earthship Biotecture is the most famous project of Michael Raynolds.9

“What if you found that you had to stay on a life support system for the rest of your life? Many people would rather die than live this way. We are living this way. We are also dying this way. The systems give us over in one hand and poison in the other. Acid rain, radioactive waste, spider webs of over lines, polluted rivers and oceans, vanishing wildlife are all part of the “price” for the life support systems necessary to make the current concept of housing functional.”12

Figure 6 : An Earthship in the desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico

Michael Reynolds defines Earthship as ‘independent vessels - to sail on the seas of tomorrow.”10 He explained an independent vessel as living ‘a self-contained vessel capable of sustaining an environment for human habitat on its own, through its own interfacing with natural phenomena’ as opposed to a ‘dependent trap’11 - a compartment that on its own is not able to adequately sustain human life. The concept of Earthship uses six principals to ensure sustainable living. It is thermal/solar heating & cooling; solar & wind electricity; contained sewage treatment; building with natural material & waste; water harvesting and food production. Reynolds’ Earthship is a great inspiration to anybody wanting to live and build sustainably.

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ANDAMAN ISLANDS

RADICALLY SUSTAINABLE

REYNOLDS

Building for the people hit by natural disaster

RAIN WATER COLLECTING HOUSE

After the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Reynolds was contacted and asked for help to build shelters for victims displaced by the disaster. He and his team responded by building a sustainable shelter out of plastic bottle bricks that served another purpose of harvesting clean water for the community. His team also used tyres packed with dirt in the structure to make the building more durable and able to withstand future earthquakes. This project is the start of his humanitarian work.

Michael and his team were invited to Andaman Islands several years ago after a tsunami hit the Bay of Bengal. He built an Earthship out of the garbage from the devastated island. The domeshaped one-room house is hurricane/ earthquake proof and is built to collect rain-water. This is an important feature since the rising tide overwhelmed the community’s single fresh-water well. Figure 7: Sierra Leone school pupils (Earthship Biotecture 2012) Figure 9 : Earthship - Water collecting house, Andaman Islands (Earthship Biotecture 2013)

HAITI

HOUSING SYSTEM

Michael Reynolds journeyed to Haiti on a research mission and to see what could be done in the country so damaged by earthquake. He ended up building a whole house with the help of 40 locals, ranging in age from 4 to 50, in just under four days. Locals gathered tyres and plastic water bottles, while Reynolds and his team directed the construction efforts. The Earthship is 120 sq ft and made from 120 tyres packed with dirt and topped with a dome roof.

MIKE

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Figure 8: Earthship - housing system, Haiti ( Alana Tracy 2012)

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SIERRA LEONE,

GODERICH WALDORF SCHOOL In

October 2011 Mike Reynolds traveled to Sierra Leone to help build first world’s Earthship inspired school for around 90 children. This charity run school began life in 2001 in a tiny beach hut at the end of the ten year civil war. The flower shaped structure offers up to seven classrooms.

Figure 10 : Locals volunteering at building school, Sierra Leone ( Earthship Biotecture 2011)


BRIGHTON

EARTHSHIP - BRIGHTON

EARTHSHIP

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“This pioneering demonstration project has enabled people to come and experience a cutting edge Eco-build and be inspired to respond to climate change in their own ways back at home and work.� 13

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arthship Brighton was the first Earthship built in England as a first project of the Low Carbon Trust Brighton. Located in the natural beauty of Stanmer Organics on the edge of Brighton accredited by the Soil Association. This project was inspired when Mike Reynolds was invited to give a talk about Earthship biotecture at the Brighthelm Center in Brighton in 2000. This talk also inspired to create the Low Carbon trust organisation that aimed to build an Earthship community center to provide education about the environment, and to create meeting space for environmental groups rather than a residential scheme with private individuals. Full planing permission was

granted in summer 2002 and detailed design work was undertaken to adopt the US model to the UK climate. However the main issue was to get clearance to built with tyres as UK and EU legislation makes it difficult to build with any material that has been designed as waste. Final permission was granted but only as a one-off demonstration project and it was determined that this would not set a precedent. The project was completed in 2007 after a four year period of a trial and error learning experience. Earthship Brighton consists of a hut module, a large meeting room, kitchen, bathroom and greenhouse conservatory.

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Figure 11 : Earthship Brighton (Diana Yoon 2013)


BRIGHTON

Figure 14: Solar gain section Earthship Brighton ( Taus Larsen 2012)

Figure 15 : Release of heat from thermal mass Earthship Brighton ( Taus Larsen 2012)

Figure 16 : Limiting solar gain in summer Earthship Brighton ( Taus Larsen 2012)

Figure 17 : Natural ventilation and convection Earthship Brighton ( Taus Larsen 2012)

Figure 12 : Floor Plan Earthship Brighton ( Mischa Hewitt & Kevin Telfer 2012)

EARTHSHIP

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Figure 13 : Earthship Brighton - side section - exposure of thermal store at ground level (Mischa Hewitt & Kevin Telfer 2012)


BRIGHTON

EARTHSHIP COMPONENTS The Earthship is orientated according to passive solar principles and always south facing. To ensure off-grid living Earthship produces electricity on site with a PV array, a wind turbine or a gas generator. A Cistern is used to store rain water gathered from the roof. Sewage treatment is also on site rather than being connected to a municipal sewer system. Earthship includes a greenhouse capable of growing food.

IN CONTEXT Earthship Brighton is set in the natural beauty of organic land at Stanmer park near Brighton. To live in the Earthship off grid often means to live in a remote location within nature self-sufficiently.

Figure 17 : Stanmer park Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015)

Figure 19 : Components of Earthship Brighton

BUILDING MATERIALS

EARTHSHIP

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Old car tyres are used to construct the walls and they perform valuable structural and thermal functions. Laying tyres in a staggered course is structurally the same as using brick or concrete blocks to build walls. Each tyre is filled with compacted earth, so that it becomes a rammed earth brick encased in steel belted rubber. Another recycled material used in Earthship are glass bottles used as a building materials often on inner walls as well as wall decorations. Adobe is used as building material and is typically composed of clay, sand, silt, and gravel, and various amendments such as straw and grasses. Cob is one of the oldest earthen building materials that requires little framework and is less labor intensive than adobe. Cob consists of clay, sand, straw, and water. Figure 18: Rammed earth tyre wall construction: Glass bottle wall Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015)

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USE OF SPACE IN EARTHSHIP BRIGHTON Earthship Brighton is a great demonstration project that provides a social and educational space for local people wanting to learn about sustainable ways of living and building. Being a public space, imagination is required to picture it as a residential type of property. A fully functioning kitchen is used for food preparation. Hand made kitchen units and earthy green walls appear very dark and artificial light is required.

Figure 20 : Meeting room Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015)


EARTHSHIP - WATER SYSTEM

SYSTEM

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WATER

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Figure 21 : Water collector on the roof Earthship Brighton (Amzi Smith 2011)

“Water should be used many times before being put back in to earth. When we do put it back, it should be in a way that works with the existing nurturing forces and phenomena of the earth.�14 Mike Reynolds

he Earthship typically has no connection to mains water, and so it relies purely on rain and snow melt for its supply. When the particulate matter has been mechanically removed, the water flows to underground storage tanks(Figure 23). The tanks are buried in the heal and below the roof level, but above the level to supply the Earthship, so the whole system is gravity fed until it reaches the filtration panel inside the building. Underground tanks also offer a dark, cool environment that reduces the risk of bacterial growth. The Earthship water system combines rainwater harvesting, greywater and blackwater treatment systems with other water conservation measures. The strategy is that the Earthship can provide enough water to survive in any region in the world where annual precipitation is greater then 200mm; other than desert, this is true for most of the world. The concept is that water is harvested, altered and then used, recovered and used four times within the Earthship water system which challenges the need for current laws that classify rain water as raw sewage. First rainwater is captured on the roof that has been designed with a low pitch orientated towards the sun so that snowfall can melt and flow into the tanks before evaporation occurs. Then the water is purified to a level that is safe to drink or wash with. This is achieved via WOM (a self-contained filtration unit that produces portable and non-portable water, Figure 23).15 When the first water enters the WOM it goes through mesh filter to remove sediment, protecting (DC) pump which then pushes the water though a second, longer grade mesh filter, after this the water is ready for non-portable uses, including showering, bathing, washing clothes and cleaning dishes. A charcoal and carbon block filter is used to treat the water to the drinking water quality legislation standards. Therefore it is required for all sinks to have taps for cold water, hot water and drinking water a use non-toxic detergent.

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SYSTEM

Figure 23 : Rain water storage cistern Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015)

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WATER

22 Figure 22 : Grey water collection, treatment and re-use for toilet flushing and outdoors

Use of the first water is through the sink and shower producing the waste called greywater. This water is then filtered of grease and particles, directing the flow of the water right to the botanical treatment cell or greywater planter lined with DPDM rubber. This creates a closed area, which becomes its own ecosystem that adapts to treatment of waste water throughout a variety of natural processes such as transpiration, evaporation and oxygenation and rhizosphere (treatment by bacteria that live around plants’ root system). The planters are positioned next to the south-facing windows, creating beneficial environ- for the plants, which thrive in the nutrient-rich greywater and sun-

Figure 24 : Water- organising/ filtering module Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015)

light manifesting into a personal food production supply (however root vegetables should be avoided). After treatment, the greywater gathers in a well at the end of the planter, until the toilet is flushed, which draws water through to the toilet cistern. Some Earthships have an additional faucet to flush the toilet with rainwater throughout a period of heavy rain. Blackwater is defined as water that has been mixed with human waste and the autonomous sewage system allows treating this water onsite.16

Figure 25 : Grey water plant treatment Earthship Brighton (Eva Verkinova 2015


M

ike Reynolds has been a great ispiration and infuence on myself since I visited Earthship in Brighton in 2014. It made me realise the importance of considering the environment and sustainability in my designs. My DRS 6 deals with disasters and my project is about food waste. In my reaserch I have realised that the main reason why we are wasting food is loss of value in food and emotional disconection from the processes of farming and nature. I would like to use Reynolds’ system of growing your own food inside of the house as a tool to regain our connection with nature and to ultimately prevent food waste.


REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Escape to Earthship: building a home for the End of Days | The Verge. 2016. Escape to Earthship: building a home for the End of Days | The Verge. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/29/3693164/escape-to-earthship-taos-michael-reynolds. [Accessed 07 November 2015]. File:ARCHITECT AND EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE BUILDER MICHAEL REYNOLDS WHO LIVES NEAR TAOS, NEW MEXICO, IN THE PYRAMID-SHAPED ROOM... - NARA - 556620.jpg - Wikimedia Commons. 2016. File:ARCHITECT AND EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE BUILDER MICHAEL REYNOLDS WHO LIVES NEAR TAOS, NEW MEXICO, IN THE PYRAMID-SHAPED ROOM... - NARA - 556620.jpg - Wikimedia Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ARCHITECT_AND_EXPERIMENTAL_HOUSE_BUILDER_MICHAEL_REYNOLDS_WHO_LIVES_NEAR_TAOS,_NEW_MEXICO,_IN_THE_PYRAMID-SHAPED_ROOM..._-_NARA_-_556620.jpg#/ media/File:ARCHITECT_AND_EXPERIMENTAL_HOUSE_BUILDER_MICHAEL_REYNOLDS_WHO_LIVES_NEAR_TAOS,_NEW_MEXICO,_IN_THE_PYRAMID-SHAPED_ROOM..._-_NARA_-_556620.jpg. [Accessed 06 January 2016]. What makes this a “beer can house”? Stay tuned for.... 2016. What makes this a “beer can house”? Stay tuned for.... [ONLINE] Available at: http://dailydocumerica.tumblr.com/post/15619882749/what-makes-this-a-beer-can-house-stay-tuned-for. [Accessed 06 January 2016]. Garbage Warrior - Tracing Green. 2016. Garbage Warrior - Tracing Green. [ONLINE] Available at: http://tracinggreen.uk/reviews/garbage-warrior/. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. Basic Building Block of Experimental Housing Being Built of Empty Steel Beer and Soft Drink Cans near Taos, New Mexico. a Total Of Eight Cans Weighing 14 Ounces Are Wired Together And Placed In Mortar In The Outside Walls At a Cost Of 15 Cents Per Unit. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. 2016. Basic Building Block of Experimental Housing Being Built of Empty Steel Beer and Soft Drink Cans near Taos, New Mexico. a Total Of Eight Cans Weighing 14 Ounces Are Wired Together And Placed In Mortar In The Outside Walls At a Cost Of 15 Cents Per Unit. | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/3815851072/in/album-72157622021313496/. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. In West Philadelphia, volunteers transform vacant lots into urban earthships — Keystone Crossroads. 2016. In West Philadelphia, volunteers transform vacant lots into urban earthships — Keystone Crossroads. [ONLINE] Available at: http://crossroads.newsworks. org/index.php/local/keystone-crossroads/86437-in-west-philadelphia-volunteers-transform-vacant-lots-into-urban-earthships. [Accessed 04 January 2016]. Earthship | Images - Category: Sierra Leone. 2016. Earthship | Images - Category: Sierra Leone. [ONLINE] Available at: http://earthship. com/sierra-leone-images. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. Mike Reynolds | ALANA TRACEY. 2016. Mike Reynolds | ALANA TRACEY. [ONLINE] Available at: http://alanatracey.com/2012/02/26/ mike-reynolds/. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. Andaman Islands, India | earthship pictures | Pinterest | Tropical Style, Earthship and India. 2016. Andaman Islands, India | earthship pictures | Pinterest | Tropical Style, Earthship and India. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/46443439877080495/. [Accessed 15 December 2015]. Earthship | Images - Category: Sierra Leone. 2016. Earthship | Images - Category: Sierra Leone. [ONLINE] Available at: http://earthship. com/sierra-leone-images. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. Style from Yoon, for You: To Sustainability & Beyond! - Earthship Brighton. 2016. Style from Yoon, for You: To Sustainability & Beyond! - Earthship Brighton. [ONLINE] Available at: http://stylefromyoon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/to-sustainability-beyond-earthship.html. [Accessed 15 December 2015]. Our Earthship - Convento São Francisco de Mértola. 2016. Our Earthship - Convento São Francisco de Mértola. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.conventomertola.com/en/earthship-project/earthship-biotecture. [Accessed 01 January 2016]. Earthship - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016. Earthship - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipdia.org/wiki/Earthship#/media/File:Earthship_scupper.JPG. [Accessed 18 November 2015].

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Garbage Warrior. (2007). Garbage Warrior. [Online Video]. 26 April. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnkv_qj1xUc&spfreload=10. [Accessed: 02 November 2015]. Hewitt M, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press., p13 Shukman H, New age New Mexico, Observer, 19 March 2006 Hewitt M, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press., Ibid Reynolds M.,2012. A coming of wizards: a manual of human potential, Taos, New Mexico, The High Messa Fundations Mischa Hewitt, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press., p13 Christina Sterbenz,2014. How An Environmentalist Architect Made An Incredible House Out Of Garbage Business Insider. Michael Reynolds Beer Can Thumb House - Business Insider. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-reynolds-beer-canthumb-house-2014-7?op=1&IR=T. [Accessed 17 December 2015]. Garbage Warrior. (2007). Garbage Warrior. [Online Video]. 26 April. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnkv_qj1xUc&spfreload=10. [Accessed: 02 November 2015]. M E. Reynolds, Earthship. Volume 1: How to build your own Earthship. Taos, New Mexico, Solar Survival Press 1990, Introduction Ibid Ibid p.4 About Earthship Brighton | Low Carbon Trust. 2016. About Earthship Brighton | Low Carbon Trust. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www. lowcarbon.co.uk/earthship-brighton. [Accessed 07 January 2016]. M E. Reynolds. Earthship Volume 2: System and Components, Taos New Mexico, Solar Survival Press 1990, p. 179 Hewitt M, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press., p 73 – 76 Hewitt M, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press., p 80-83 http://www.lowcarbon.co.uk http://earthship.com https://phr9n.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/assignment-4-earthship-systems/ http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/29/3693164/escape-to-earthship-taos-michael-reynolds http://tracinggreen.uk/reviews/garbage-warrior/ Reynolds E. Earthship Volume 1: How to build your own Earthship, Taos New Mexico, Solar Survival Press 1990 Reynolds E. Earthship Volume 3:Evolution beyond economics; Solar Survival Press, 1990 Hewitt M, 2012. Earthships in Europe. 2 Edition. IHS BRE Press.


Eva Verkinova (DRS6) BA(Hons) Interior & Spatial Design - year 3 Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London History and Theory 2015/16 Unit 10: History and Theory 3 (Consolidation) Unit 10: Precedent Report Tutors: Konstantinos Chalaris

Printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks


Mike Reynolds - Building the future  

Precedent report written as a part of my final year in BA ISD a Chelsea Collage of Arts on the topic of alternative architecture. Mike Reyno...

Mike Reynolds - Building the future  

Precedent report written as a part of my final year in BA ISD a Chelsea Collage of Arts on the topic of alternative architecture. Mike Reyno...

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