Haiti is still in a world of hurt, especially with regards to a lack of safe and earthquake resistant housing. Michael Reynolds, an architect from Taos, New Mexico specializing in building earthships, recently traveled to Haiti with a crew in hopes of doing a little reconnaissance. In the end they did more than just check out the lay of the land - they built a home in four days out of discarded materials that just happened to be laying around. Reynolds has plans to build whole villages of earthship homes that are completely water and energy self-sufficient for the area.
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.