Follow Up: Earthship Building in Bristol, Pa

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On November 22.23, Earthship Biotecture hosted a workshop in Bristol, Pa to teach participants about building Eartships.  About 50 people volunteered either one or both of their weekend days to help with the construction of this earthship at Silver Lake Park.  This is a structure that will be completely off-grid, harvesting rainwater and solar energy, and passivly heating the building.  It’s walls are made from tires packed with dirt, aluminum cans, glass bottles, and concrete.   This type of building is very cheap to build, and is much more resillient and durable than most buildings.

Here’s a walkthrough of the structure from Sunday:

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A schematic of the water management system in an eartship design.

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One example of an in-process filter for an outdoor planter.

The class was Saturday and Sunday, with a lecture on Saturday night focusing on water management.  I had heard about earthships in the past, and thought I understood the basic concepts, but the lecture on Saturday night opened my eyes to how intricate the design really is.  Water that is collected from the roof of the structure is stored in large, underground cisterns.  The water from these cisterns is filtered, and gravity fed into the building where it is used for drinking water, sink water, and shower water.  After being used, it is filtered through an in-ground planter that is in the greenhouse section of the building near the large, south-facing windows.  After feeding nutrients to the plants growing here, it is used again in the toilets.  From the toilets, it is flushed outside to several more in-ground planters where the blackwater feeds nutrients to more plants.  Food is not typically grown in the blackwater planters, but the greywater planters thrive as food sources for the inhabitants.  In the presentation from Saturday evening, there were examples of beautiful kitchens with lush gardens integrated as part of the home.

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Pounding dirt into tires to create a rammed-earth structure

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After ramming the tires with earth, we created a concrete and stone trim

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A lot of dirt has to be moved when building earthships.

We were burying the water cisterns on Sunday, and we needed to move wheelbarrel after wheelbarrel of dirt to the top-rear of the building, where the cistern sits:

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Digging large food garden planters inside the south-facing glass windows.

There’s also an earthship currently being built in West Philly.  They could use your support: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/west-philadelphia-earthship-demonstration-project

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Glass bottles and concrete make funky patterns in the walls, and insulate against cold weather.

Most people today buy their homes with a mortgage that they will need to pay off for 20-30 years.  Imagine, rather than taking on this debt, if a community got together and built homes for each other.  Spending time on the weekends to work on each others homes, a small community of earthships could be constructed in a few short years.  This community would then be self-sufficient, off-grid, and mortgage-free.  This would take a lot of time, but maybe as a society we need to re-prioritize how we spend our precious free time.  Maybe sacrificing some time (and sweat) to help one-another live more resilient lives is exactly what our society needs.

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