Early in July, Reynolds, two builders and a cameraman journeyed to Haiti to do research and see what could be done. They ended up building a whole house with the help of 40 locals, ranging in age from four to 50, in just under four days. Locals gathered tires and plastic water bottles, while Reynolds and his team directed the construction efforts. The earthship is 120 sq ft and made from 120 tires packed with dirt and topped with a dome roof (an easily replicable design). Reynolds said of the locals who helped, “They had nothing to do. They were all eager to learn, and it turns out all the skills we could do, they could do.”
Reynolds has built over 1,000 earthships through his firm Earthship Biotecture around the world, and even homes for other disaster torn areas, like on the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean after the 2004 tsunami. Earthships are constructed from discarded materials like tires, which serve as the foundation and structure of the building. Typically built in a round with a domed roof, the buildings are also able to withstand earthquakes. For the homes in Haiti, Reynolds also has plans to include rainwater harvesting, solar power, sewage treatment and food production. He and his team will return in October to add the remaining systems to the existing home, including adding plaster to the exterior, a screened-in veranda with flush toilets and water and solar collectors.