Sunday, August 05, 2007

Earth-sheltered house

This earth-sheltered low-impact home was built in Wales. I like what the builder said: "built mostly from imagination, optimism and rubbish…" Actually, for people who live in the country and have a little extra land, it would be worthwhile to experiment with various construction techniques and build some test houses. He didn't need much money to build it.

I was thinking that different places would have different ways of using the local materials most effectively to make homes that shelter people from the local climate. In the central areas of North America, and places that have extreme cold and heat, earth-sheltered housing makes a lot of sense. There is a similar tradition in the plains --the sod house-- some of which have been preserved and updated, such as this site in Saskatchewan. The Addison sod house is also at wikipedia. Wikipedia's earth-sheltering page is good, too, and points out some potential problems like condensation.

Other places have different ways of sheltering and adapting to the local climate. Places with monsoon rains have stilt houses, which should be adapted for New Orleans and incorporated into the building codes there. Japanese traditional houses also do not use earth-sheltering, possibly due to earthquakes.

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