Earthship biotecture – Day Two

Doodle I did in class of an Earthship. This is my first try, we will have better ones I promise.

The truth is the Sun, the Wind and the Gravity.

Michael Reynolds

Fair warning, I learned a lot today so get ready for a big fat brain dump. I am currently chowing down on broccoli and hummus to get my ATP back up.

Sleep was hard my first night sleeping in the earthship. I am used to a droning fan and my feet hurt due to the excessive walking and elevation change I am not used to. I eventually did fall asleep after some tossing and turning but I think I will take a warm bath before I go to bed everyday.

I woke up at 8:15, make some coffee and chewed on some pecans before heading across the street to the classroom. I chose to sit at the only table next to Jonas because I can not pay attention unless I am doodling. I will post them at the end. I’m thinking of making an Earthship tattoo flash sheet! Everyone seems to want to get a commemorative tattoo here.

Class started off with Michael Reynolds who taught ‘The History of the Earthship.’ He was very eloquent and had a lot of quotable messages. He was one of my favorite doodles and my first one.

First thing we talked about is how a home should be built based on Earth Phenomena and show flow with that earth phenomena; wind, rain, sun, gravity, condensation etc. Mike was very forthright when saying that we are controlled by the ‘dogma’ of a capitalistic society and that the functionalities of our homes are a disgrace. ‘The fact that as soon as you turn off the A/C it gets warm immediately is a huge flaw in the system.’ The goal of an Earthship is to ‘reduce economical and institutional barriers between humans and a home.’

”Each building is a living breathing cell that is getting everything that its inhabitants need from an encounter with the natural phenomenon of the planet, like the sun, like the rain, like the gravity, like the wind, the condensation, the convection, all of the natural phenomenon of the planet are studied and observed and built into these buildings so that they, through encounter with the natural phenomenon become a living breathing organism that takes care of people, and doesn’t need fossil fuels.”

Mike Reynolds

Mike said there are seven things we need to consider when building a home: food, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, comfy shelter, water and electricity. ‘We need to evaluate everything on why we live on this planet and if you don’t change the direction you’re headed, you’re going to end up there.’ He then went on to talk about the floating ‘trash island,’ and all the trash piled in the Caribbean. He also went on to say that every Earthship that is built,’ brings back a bit of the Amazonian Rainforest.’

Mike started building Earthship’s after he graduated college with a degree in architecture. He felt that ‘dogma has branded our brains,” and that there was another way to build homes by recycling garbage and capturing energy. I can tell Mike gets a lot of criticism because there was a lot of fervor in his voice.

“We were able to grow banana trees inside homes at 10,000 feet elevation.” This was inside their Global unit which is one of the many models of Earthships Mike has created. The Unity he feels is his best model, it’s cheaper, most efficient and gorgeous. It’s also taken a lot from what of his first models. He stated that they experimented and tried lots of things and mostly how the first model was built was correct with some modifications.

One thing Michael said that really resonated with me as that he thinks that ‘he is an alien who has arrived from another planet.’ And that’s how he’s able to do these crazy, off the wall Earthships. He once built an earthship in Jamaica out of beer cans. Jamaica is known for it’s drunken buffoonary tourism and for that, there are tons of cans to be used for ‘mass.’ He also did something similar with a villa in Puerto Rico.

The therma spiral of an Eartship should be around 70 degrees. This often the temperture that’s required by code. A lot of this is based on natural convection that, ‘heat goes to cooler places.’ He thinks of Earthships like trees, there are to become apart of the environment. You have to organize the water into botanical cells.

Mike has stage four cancer. Despite that, he’s inredibly active and I’ve even had the change to work next to him. He claims eating spinach and being a vegan has kept him healthy. “Eating animals from factories are eating animals full of fear but spinach grows fast and can keep up with your appetite.’

Last remarks from Michael was ‘Live simply so that all can simply live.’ and I fucking loved that. He also mentioned that South Dakota could really take the lead on earthships and the Phillipines was a great place for ‘Windships.’

Next we had Phil. I really like Phil. He has long hair and he’s quite chipper and probably the best teacher at Earthship Biotecture thus far. He’s worked with Michael for 30 years and has worked on Reach (an intentional community at Earthship Biotecture) and Biotecture planet Earth (the traveling earthship building company.)

Phil says that what sets Earthships apart from normal homes are tat we ‘repurse, reuse and remanufacture.’ This is Upcycling vs. Downcycling. “we take more from the dump than we bring to it.’ He’s worked in places like Haiti, Jamaica and many more.

One of the first things he taught us about was ’embodied energy.’ Every object has embodied energy. It’s better to use materials in the home that have lower in embodied energy but Earthships use materials with high embodied energy such as Aluminum, Tires and Copper so that they can have a second use. He said to always always recycle aluminum.

“Source materials based on your surroundings.”


Some terms I learned around this part were Vega- peeled bark log and Earthen plaster- plaster made from the earth. He then went on to talk more about Tires, tires are obviously a huge component and the most important component of Earthships. Tires have great thermal masks, cannot be put into landfills and work as it’s own foundation. They are a great resource for building homes.

You can batter a tire or use a tire plum. Sometimes tires are pounded with gravel to allow water to pass through. Cans are used as bricks. They are not loadbearing and are only used as ‘mass’ unless you make a double can wall. You can also use spray paint cans and votive candles as bricks as well. Steel is the best material to use for a place that has earthquakes.

Later that evening, some friends came over to my Princess Bourgeoise Earthship and we played some villan monopoly. Then we all went to bed early because this pitch black night makes it super easy to do so.