Imagine a house that heats itself, that provides its own water, that grows its own food. Imagine that it needs no expensive technology, that it recycles its own waste, that it has its own power source. And now imagine that it can be built anywhere, by anyone, out of the things society throws away. Thirty years ago, New Mexico-based architect Michael Reynolds imagined just such a home – then set out to build it. For 30 years he and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of “Earthship Biotecture” by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defied state standards created conflict between Michael and the authorities who are backed by big business. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbied for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hemmed and hawed, Mother Nature struck, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis, tornadoes, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. Michael and his crew seized the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who needed it most. Shot over three years and in four countries, this remarkable film is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century.
Can Michael Reynolds’ thirty-year long approach to self-sustaining building — which involves using discarded tires, plastic bottles, old beer cans, rammed earth, rain-harvesting, solar power, and on-site food production — be a feasible solution to the development of green building in North America? The proof is in the pudding: we can see that Michael’s vision of self-sufficient, off-grid living has been potently realized in the distinctive and eloquent earthships nestled in the harsh landscape just outside of Taos, New Mexico. As specimens of an experimental design process, the earthships certainly stand in sharp contrast to what conventional housing and architecture stand for today, as these houses can literally “take care of themselves.” Completely off-grid, the houses provide food from integrated greenhouses, water from the roofs, greywater recycling, electricity from windmills, and solar panels and passive solar methods of heating and cooling — an impressive feat of design that ultimately reconnects their inhabitants with the cycles and providence of nature.
Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street
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