Earthship Village Design with Michael Reynolds by Brian Skeele

Michael Reynolds points out how “Pockets of Freedom” are essential for innovation. His latest Earthship Village design redefines the neighborhood corner market. By connecting Earthships along a commons bike path/ food jungle, he integrates sewage treatment, water catchment, the growing of fruit and vegetables, fish and chickens all together in a year round tempered climate. …

Water catchment, food production, water recycling, and pathway all on located in the Commons

Earthship Village Design by Michael Reynolds

This is “biotecture” designed for a city in Turkey. There is a mile long bike lane through the Commons.  Not only is the guy riding through the Commons’ greenhouse, this buffer zone contains the facility’s sewage treatment, water catchment and food production. The outside climate gets tempered twice on the way into the private homes — once in the Commons and then in the personal greenhouses. With this much locally produced food, the scale of the corner store is redefined. Provisions for vegetables, bananas, fish and chickens are part of the design.

Water Recycling, Bananas, Fish, Vegetables in the Jungle. Attached Earthships creating the new corner market.

There is often a barrier between the peoples of the world and an affordable carbon-zero/sustainable-living circumstance. The web of rules, codes and regulations that were developed for the safety and welfare of the people enforce this barrier. But many of these regulations have become obsolete and inapplicable, as the earth and its populations have changed in recent years. In effect, humanity has been riding a horse for many decades, and now we have arrived at a vast sea and are beginning to realize that the horse is not appropriate to continue our journey. We need a boat. The existing regulatory forces push us into trying to make a horse that floats or a boat that looks like a horse. Neither is the correct solution. We need to abandon the concept of horse and think boat-affordable boat. Conventional living concepts, codes and regulations do not even address this new circumstance.  The Earthship Village Ecologies (EVE) project is an effort to respond to the situation at hand.

After years of lobbying, in 2007 the Sustainable Development Testing Sites Act (SDTSA) was passed in New Mexico. Just as special racetracks are used to test automotive safely outside the public highway system, this piece of legislation allows testing of housing and living methods in a day-to-day living circumstance, with real people. The EVE project, via the SDTSA, is a testing place for housing and living methods outside the confines of an outdated regulatory system. 

Pockets of Freedom

Location is a critical factor in the whole process of establishing an Earthship. We have seen the permit process cause people a lot of time and expense. In retrospect, I would tell people who run up against this to choose some other place else to live.  The permit officials can water down concepts to the point of making them 50% as efficient. For example, we had a man come in fromPima County,Ariz. It took him three years and several redraws, and required a cost of three times the price of what the original drawings called for. Eventually, when he did get it, the building was so watered down it wouldn’t work as well.

The regulatory process was meant to protect people. Often what it actually does is inhibit innovation and evolution.  Another example: There was a man who came to northern New Mexico from Crockett,Texas and said he wanted an Earthship home. He chose the Global model. Four months later he walked in the door of his Earthship. That is the difference that location can make. Earthships can work in any climate, so the weather is not that much of a factor. It is whether you have enforced restrictive codes that make the difference. For more on Earthships, spend the night, etc see

Comments 1

  1. Hi ! I know this technology along with many other types has been around for a long time now. I just cannot fathom why we persist in building stuff that is unsustatinable, more costly, harmful to the planet and ourselves and does not blend in well with the surroundings we live in. I do not understand why builders,planners and government do not get that the way to go is so simple and less problematic. When will humankind wake up and hear the clarion call for change ? I fervently hope the wake up comes soon for our sakes.

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