Constructing an Earthship
Located one hour north of Winnipeg and a short walk away from Dennis Lake is 320 acres of land owned by Myriad Village Marketing Co-op Ltd. The vision for this property, now called Myriad Village, is to create an egalitarian community of like minded individuals as well as a space where they can live in harmony with nature. With the goal of reworking the land into a liveable and sustainable community, Myriad Village offered a two-week Earthship Building Workshop this past June. This work shop allowed volunteers to learn how to build an Earthship through hands on experience. The Earthship is the first of many green homes and structures that will be a part of Myriad Village.
An Earthship is a brand of passive solar house created by the architect Michael Reynolds. Both natural and upcycled materials, such as earth packed tires and glass bottles, are used in the construction of an Earthship. The earth packed tires form the structural, bearing, and retaining walls. South facing windows bring solar energy directly into the Earthship which is then absorbed by the tires. This heats the house in the colder months. The tire walls and the earth berm serve as thermal mass, absorbing thermal energy when the surrounding temperature is higher than the mass, and giving off thermal energy when the surrounding temperature is lower. Thermal mass is an integral part of the Earthship’s design and function. Metal tubes run through the berm, cooling the air going through them in the summer to create natural air conditioning.
The act of manually ramming earth into the tires, the most labour-intensive part of the building process, is referred to as ‘pounding tires’. During the second week of Myriad Village’s Earthship Building Workshop, the ninth course of one of the tire walls was completed. This was a cause for celebration, as the wall had taken nearly four months to complete. Monika Pudelko, one of the founders of Myriad Village, noted that “it is important to celebrate the little milestones or else we’d always be building and never stop to acknowledge our accomplishments.”
A water harvesting system is included in the Earthship design. Water produced from rain, snow, and condensation is gathered, stored in cisterns, and then filtered for human consumption.
The Earthship is built to harvest and use solar or wind energy. Wind turbines or photovoltaic panels may be located on or near the building. At Myriad Village, a small shed currently houses five photovoltaic panels that power two mini fridges, electricity for internet, and power tools which are used to build structures on site.
Other features of the Earthship include a south facing greenhouse for winter food production, the use of recycled water for flushing the toilet, and self-contained sewage treatment.