By Oliver Hall
Most people having a home built for them might expect to have to find their own kitchen units or chose their bathroom suite – but for one self-build couple it meant a month of foraging through breakers yards looking for old tyres!
For it took 650 hand-picked tyres and thousands of empty drink cans to build the walls of Scott Elder and Karla Lund’s stunning home, the latest prototype of an Earthship, a form of self-sustained home, tucked into a bluff above the Yellowstone River, eastern Montana.
Designed by an architect Michael Reynolds, also known as the “Garbage Warrior”, the two-bedroom house was built in just eight weeks.
The home’s south face, an angled wall of glass, rises over a greenhouse bathed in sunlight reflected off the snow-covered hills east of Miles City, while its other three sides are sunk into the hillside.
Last summer, a work crew and volunteers rammed dirt into tyres to create 650 steel-belted “bricks,” which were stacked in rows, nine tyres high.
Empty drink cans and beer bottles cemented side by side and covered with adobe mud became the interior walls of the eco-friendly home.
In the 1970s, Reynolds started designing bricks out of beer cans. Since then, he has built about a thousand Earthships, scattered around the world. Another thousand have been built by homeowners themselves.
Reynolds said: “We’re using what the world calls garbage. An auto tyre is built very well. It’s a shame to throw it away just when it loses its tread.”
The home operates off the power grid, relying on passive and active solar design and geothermal mass. Solar panels at the top of the angled glass wall charge batteries on the roof.