Earthship Biotecture – Day Three

             I had the wildest dreams last night. They were so wild, I can’t even speak to them although I remember them vividly. Dreams out here seems more clear and also very emotional. 

            My mom also had her surgery today. It went well and she seems happy and in good spirits because now the cancer is completely gone. It’s been hard to talk to her with this shotty reception. 

            Today we learned about tires from a guy named Rory who taught us through a zoom call. I really despise classes through a zoom call so I will do my best to talk about what he was talking about. 

               Step 1: Lay out tires to conform to surface of the land. They need to have a running bond. Then you lay 2 to 3 layers of cardboard inside of the tire and do a three tire turn. You use capillary wicking in bottom of the tire if you need water to pass through and gabion is a wire basket with stones. Water can wash compaction of tires away specially in wet climates so you want to consider your packing materials. There is also something called a squishy (cute) but I have yet to learn what that is. 

When you are reading a tire there are three numbers that look like this: 

 235mm 75mm R15”

That mean this: Height of Tread/ Side Wall/ Rim

             When you loose side wall friction of a tire, you look the integrity of the wall. Therefore if the sidewall is too low, you don’t use it. Also I’d like to mention, our teacher Rory was always laughing and it was hard to keep up at times so apologies if I am wrong about a few things. 

              Still on step 1, you put cardboard at the bottom of the tire to hold material. The stabilizer is the rubber casing. You should compact dirt 90 percent, you can over compact. When you start laying out tires, start in a corner. In the corner you create a ‘three tire turn’ which is basically three tires that make a curve. For the straight sides, you can either ‘terrace’ the tires or ‘batter’ the tires to create a wall. Still confused on this but I hope to learn at the job site. 

              When you start the wall there are actually two courses of tires below the floor level called: Burnt or Subfloor and Subgrade. This creates more stability along with the dirt slope behind the tires. You measure tires with plum (to make sure it’s flesh vertically) and level (to make sure it’s aligned horizontally.) 

           They go on to mention that the Unity is their best design which is there old dog with new tricks. It basically is their original model with a few updates. When you lay tires you want to ‘knit’ them meaning you want to go back and forth with them. Still confused on this but hope to understand more later. I know you have to think of the radius point of the U-shape in the tires but… I’m still a bit lost on that. 

          The tires are staggered when you are creating walls but sometimes you have to make a ‘half block’ which has a half tire every other tire. This is a way to sleeve or chase which is putting larger things in so you can put smaller things around it. 

          The foundation for tires is called a Pile On. Jesus soooo much terminology lol. When you create a foundation you want to fine the lowest point of elevation and level everything to it. This makes total sense. Tire is a footing. You don’t want to use black dirt because it has too much organic matter and could break down over time. Use clay if the earth has too much organic matter. 

Not sure where all the other steps start but…. moving on to… 

Building walls with Cans & Bottles 

Can has no strength in the wall, it is used to build up frame work and basically take up space so you’re spending less on materials and upcycling. You create a ‘honeycomb’ structure with cans and the cement mortar creates the strength in the wall. Cans are versatile for sculpture. 

           Porcupining is a technique where you put nails and screws on the sides of the panels to hold the concrete and have it bind to it better. Every material has contraction so you want to keep it wet so it doesn’t dry too fast. Cement Mortar is 3 parts sand and 1 part water. Frame wall for Plum. 

Next we have Phil… 

He started with this acronym

SAFE: Safe Autonomy for Everyone. 

Side Note: Two story Earthships are not built a lot because it’s hard to control the temperature inside of them. 

           When you are building an Earthship there are Passive Systems (no mechanics) and Active Systems (Solar, Mechanical, Radiant floor heating etc.) You want the Earthship to become apart of the environment using convection. Taos Pueblo, owned by Indigenous, is a great example of this. You want to point all buildings south to make use of most of the energy needed from the sun. Heating and Cooling is the most energy needed for a home. 

         There are two norths: true north and magnetic north. You want to consider this and declination which means you point the building towards the sun. You also want to consider winter solstice when point the glass windows because the winter sun has the lowest angle. The slope glass is not used as often due to the amount of maintenance needed. 

Now were going to talk about Thermal Mass & Insulation

               Mass is either large or insular. Insulation (hay) is light with lots of air pockets. Mass (rock) has a thermal quality and will take on temperature. Side Note: Spaghetti sauce has good mass quality. Insulation does not take on temperature, it contains it. Cold – Insulation – Warm. Thermal breaks are leaks. Poly Iso is insulation they use a lot. Garbage insulation contains crushed plastic to create air pockets. Cardboard is good insulation and has a high R Value. 

R Value is how well a material will insulate which range from 2-7

          Thermal Wrap is what insulates the mass of the tire wall. It connects to the roof. So it works like this Tire Wall —> Insulation —> Burial Wall (not necessary but good for frost.) Brings frost line up. A battered tire wall requires burial. A straw bale veneer can be used as insulation. 

          Greenhouses are added to bring the temperature down but also to bring in the green. Glass has no R Value. A 70 degree home is required by building code. A second green house adds even more of a buffer to make Earthships 70 degrees depending on the climate. This double greenhouse works in any climate. 

               A transom window is an operable window above a door. Open vents and close doors to release heat (convection) and cooling tubes cool down the home. Triple greenhouses are used for extreme cold. Greenhouses are a buffer zone. 

Job Site

             We were at U3 today which was the more established and built Earthship of the two. Marilou who is from France but lives in Switzerland, Adam from Israel and I cleaned glass bottles and taped them into bricks. It was fun. I really bonded with Marilou and learned a lot about her. She is also an artist. Most of the friends I have made are on the other job site so it’s nice to find someone to relate too. 

             We all then went to the hot springs on the Rio Grande. What a TREK it was v hard but fun when we got there. Something I have noticed is that there are a lot of tweekers in Taos and they did invade the hot springs. After that, Lauren, Isabel and I went out for some drinks. They were nice enough to join me because they knew I was distracting myself from my moms surgery. How sweet and I’ve only known them for a week. The people out here can be so damn friendly 🙂 

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