Boulder Houses with Living Walls and Living Roofs

I want to take the ‘boulder house’ concept one step further by combining boulders with living walls and living roofs. The end result would be au natural – a sustainable home in a natural state. I envision a home that looks almost exactly like boulders surrounded by plants. It’s hard to think of a more beautiful, durable and sustainable way of building. And again, you’re not limited to making boulder houses using this new lightweight geopolymer earthbag method. Let your imagination run wild.

Living walls can beautify your home, as well as add insulation, habitat for wildlife and reduce noise. In addition, plant covered buildings are very practical because they can save wall materials and finish work, reduce heating and cooling loads, and oxygenate air around the building. Just imagine your house enveloped in fragrant, colorful flowers, wonderfully blended with the natural environment.

In case you’re wondering about my living wall made with aluminum and removable potted plants, the living wall made with fishing net is thriving. So far plants prefer the living wall made with fishing net (probably because pots tend to dry out too quickly). Also, I’m less concerned about the durability of the fishing net. It holds up for several years in total sunlight. In this application, the plants soon cover the fishing net and block almost all sunlight, and so I think it will be quite durable. Eventual replacement will be a chore, however. One alternative is to plant vines around the base of the house and add a few sections of living wall tubes for flowers and other small plants. This would mimic the appearance of plants growing naturally in rock niches.

Living roofs or green roofs have a number of advantages over conventional roofs, although they take extra care to build and maintain. Besides being beautiful, green roofs reduce runoff problems, provide habitat for wildlife, buffer noise, filter the air and reduce the ‘heat island effect’ in cities. They also improve the energy efficiency of buildings, reducing heating and cooling costs. My earthbag dome rootcellar made it into the Huffington Post Green Roof Contest.

Recommended links:
Living Wall YouTube Video
Green House

2 thoughts on “Boulder Houses with Living Walls and Living Roofs”

  1. I have a few questions about the living walls. Wouldn’t a living wall have particular considerations during its construction? One couldn’t simply setup a living wall over their conventional construction home could they? Having lived on an old farm where vegetation had been given free reign over some of the older buildings, I’ve seen the effects it can have on conventional architecture with plants rooting into the mortar and breaking it loose, or rooting into the wood siding and drawing moisture into the wood and interior wall.

    What considerations would you take with an earthbag, adobe, cob or rammed earth structure to avoid these types of issues?

    • You’re right. You don’t want joints or cracks where roots can penetrate. I recommend thick geopolymer with no cracks. It would also help to choose plants whose roots are not too invasive. Living walls on adobe, cob and rammed earth are not recommended.


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