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  1. homedesign | | #1

    Very similar to......
    "Garbage Warrior"

  2. Expert Member
    ARMANDO COBO | | #2

    Yes, I've actually seen some of Michael's work and few others that build homes with tires and waste in NM. It's equally impressive.

  3. Brent_Eubanks | | #3

    This is a great idea, except that kind of plastic is not designed for long-term exposure to sunlight. Plastic is notoriously long-lived, but it does not necessarily retain its properties over time. Within a year or two, the UV is going to rot the plastic, the bottles will crack, and the water will drain out. That might be OK, as long as the residents are prepared to do the maintenance (it's not like it's hard to find a replacement bottle) and as long as the bit of metal they are using as a bottle carrier is designed to allow the bottle to be swapped out.

    Using glass bottles would make for a much longer-lasting installation. But I'm not sure how common glass bottles in that part of the world.

    Incidentally, this is a reinvention of the deck prism:

  4. Expert Member
    ARMANDO COBO | | #4

    Interesting stuff about the deck prisms… we always think of expensive solutions for day lighting, like windows, skylights, light tubes, optical fibers, etc., and yet, sometimes necessity and low budgets can bring out the best of human imagination.

  5. user-788447 | | #5

    Cool. Thanks for sharing.
    Here is an example of plastic bottles used as masonry units -

  6. user-757117 | | #6

    sometimes necessity and low budgets can bring out the best of human imagination.

    Necessity is the mother of invention.

  7. gbauser-20427 | | #7

    Brent got it right, in that plastic bottles aren't made to last. Even if protected from direct exposure to sun & UV light, they will become brittle over time just due to warm or hot temperatures; plastic becomes less plastic. That's OK if the wall never gets above head height (and thus can be a safety hazard), nor holds up a roof. But I'd be especially leery of using bottle masonry in areas of seismic risk. Spoken as a structural engineer comfortable with adobe, straw bale, and other "alternative" systems.

  8. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #8

    I was just re-reading an old Eric Sloane book ( where he describes how they used glass bottles for windows before window glass was readily available. They were also very aware of positioning the house for solar gain back in the old days. Interesting how old ideas come around again.

  9. user-788447 | | #9

    Bruce you are a structural engineer and a GBA advisor? Excellent.
    Do you have any experience with determining whether or not it is OK to bear foundation walls or footings on high density foams? On the one hand it seems to have become common practice in some European countries, on the other hand I've heard building scientists say they are wary about issues of 'creep'.
    I think there are important advantages in cold climates to create a continuous thermal barrier around the foundation. Seems to me there is a lot of room for some innovative structural solutions in this area.

  10. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #10

    J Chesnut,
    Have you seen this article?
    Foam Under Footings

  11. user-788447 | | #11

    Thanks Martin for the reminder of your blog, one that I will bookmark for easy reference.

    Rereading it I see that John Straube addressed the issue of creep and noted it is differential creep to be concerned with.

  12. user-869687 | | #12

    John B, thanks for linking that video. There is an important "big idea" behind what Michael Reynolds has been working on, going beyond a shelter to support life in as many ways as possible. Here's another short video worth watching:

    Reynolds says: "We're standing here, all of the people, and the ground beneath us--for whatever reason--is turning into hot lava. And it's beginning to melt our shoes. And we're discussing which way is the most pertinent way to run, while our feet are burning off. The main thing is, run! "

    Six principles for sustainable housing: (1) Building with recycled materials; (2) Powering with sun and wind; (3) Heating and cooling with solar thermal dynamics; (4) Harvesting water from the rain and snowmelt; (5) containing and treating your own sewage; and (6) producing a significant amount, if not all, of your own food.

  13. user-757117 | | #13

    I liked "Garbage warrior" as well.
    I'm afraid his message about how "the system" changes too slowly for the pace of change in nature is spot on.

    TJ, I like your six principles.
    It seems to me that 1-4 are relatively straight forward since they are all a type of alternative techical innovation - something humans in general are good at especially when push comes to shove.

    5 requires the toppling of significant cultural barriers. The "ewww" factor runs surprisingly deep.

    6 also requires a change in cultural attitude. Food producers really aren't valued in society as they should be so few people strive to devote even a small part of their lives to producing food. The time to learn how to garden is not when you are starving.

    "Permaculture" has a lot to teach regarding both points 5 and 6. The knowledge is out there, the question is how do you convince people they need to pick it up?
    And pick it up quick.

  14. user-869687 | | #14

    Lucas, those are the six principles Michael Reynolds gives in the short film I linked. It seems that his Earthship experiments have required a remote site, out in the desert in New Mexico. For years he got away with minimal oversight, and was free to experiment. In urban areas you don't even have room for a septic field, and it's not allowed anyway. More recently the Living Building Challenge has prompted designers to look for workarounds on water treatment, but the LBC contenders I've seen tend toward high-tech construction (which makes me seriously doubt their green cred).

    I also note that Taos seems perpetually sunny in these YouTube videos, which is helpful when you need solar power and heating. A desert climate also makes thermal mass useful, while it isn't much use in many places. Reynolds does point out that there's plenty of room out there in New Mexico, in case that climate / geography is key to making an Earthship work.

  15. user-757117 | | #15

    TJ, I just watched the clip.
    You're point about location is important I think. I wonder if Micheal has tried any cold climate (zone 6 or colder) earthships?

    Have you seen "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil"?
    It used to be available in full length for free but I can't seem to find where anymore.
    Once you get past the intro with the gloomy narrative, it has many interesting looks at permaculture design in an urban setting.

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