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‘Mother ship to Earthship…come in’
A revolutionary design in eco-housing lands in Uleila del Campo.
By Jackie Bragg
Sounding like something straight out of a Star Trek episode, the new ‘Earthship’ in Uleila del Campo makes no claims to space travel.
Its unique remit is to create an environmentally friendly home, using recycled tyres for walls, local mud for cement and renewable solar and wind power energy.
The British expat builders of the ‘first’ such earthship – not only in Almeria, but in the whole of Andalucia – are still in the throes of construction, but claim that the completed house should “function like any normal home”.
Owners Laura Davies and her partner David Buchanan were not the originators of the idea, but recognised the potential, combining a desire to live in a more eco-friendly manner with their move to Spain eight years ago.
Although they did not find a suitable plot of land until a couple of years ago, Mr Buchanan explained how Almería provided the perfect site for such sustainable housing.
He said: “Here we have 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, it’s windy, high up where we are, and we believe we can live off sufficient collected rainwater in terms of water supply”. Of course, water has it’sown recycling process as it’s never used just once. A normal cycle should mean that the water is reused in different ways four times without wastage.
He also explained how local garages were more than happy to donate the sought after second-hand tyres necessary for the walls, which are rammed full of earth using a sledge hammer. He said: “They did think we were a little mad to start with, but now they understand what it is we’re doing and are actually really interested in the project!”
Similarly, Sorbas council was unsure of exactly what it was giving permission for, according to Ms Davies, and made several visits before allowing the go-ahead for the project. They have since come around to the same way of thinking.
Ms Davies said: “This could be a very important project for the area and general lessons can be learned in energy saving processes. We had a great deal of help in Sorbas from the Sunseed project [a local charitable ecological homestead run by expats].”
The brainchild of American architect Mike Reynolds in the 1970s, the houses have three design aims: to be sustainable, use materials indigenous to the surrounding areas, and reuse them where possible; to generate their own utilities and be free ffrom the ‘grid’; and lastly that the house should require no special skills, so that anyone could build one.
March 28 – April 3, 2008