After Michael Reynolds completed his architecture degree, he founded the Earthship community in Taos, New Mexico. He began building Earthships because even after years of study, architecture still left him puzzled and asking questions such as: Why build houses with timber when trees are something we want to preserve? Why pay for electricity, water, and heat when all of it can be provided off-the-grid using existing materials and renewable resources like wind, rain, and solar?
To solve the puzzle, Reynolds developed Earthships, a form of "biotecture" that uses natural and recycled materials to minimise their impact on the environment. Earthships are built with three principles in mind: They use natural and recycled materials, they supply their own power and water, and they can be built by anyone.
Reynolds believes that building and living in Earthships is an evolutionary response that is completely necessary in the face of climate change. “I think tradition and culture are nice, they should be in magazines and coffee table books but they shouldn’t be in the way of evolution and they are,” says Reynolds.
Tradition and culture are two of our biggest enemies in my opinion. They stop us from evolving,” says Reynolds.
Reynolds built the first Earthship in 1972 using beer cans. Today, the Taos community has 130 Earthships. “It started off as being a contrived effort to recycle and has ended up being the best way I know how to build regardless of recycling,” says Reynolds.
In this short film Meet the Earthship directed by Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells, Reynolds talks passionately about the Earthships and his plans to build an Earthship city, which would be far more sustainable than a modern city.