Could You Live Underground?

Approximately 6,000 people in North American live in some kind of underground home. This home is built into the side of a hill in Scotland.  (Wikimedia Commons)

Earth-sheltered homes are built into the land on at least three sides, keeping energy use to a minimum. An engulfed home allows for more stable temperatures throughout the home as well as less exposure to the elements.

Underground America Day was created by “the father of modern earth-sheltered architecture,” Malcolm Wells, in 1974. He died in 2009. On his website,, he is quoted as saying, “I woke up one day to the fact that the Earth’s surface was made for living plants, not industrial plants.” He said the homes where we live should match nature’s pace.

“We live in an era of glitzy buildings and trophy houses: big, ugly, show-off monsters that stand — or I should say stomp — on land stripped bare by the construction work and replanted with toxic green lawns,” he said. “If the buildings could talk they would be speechless with embarrassment, but most of us see nothing wrong with them, and would, given the opportunity, build others like them, for few of us realize that there’s a gentler way to build.”

Wells’ idea of these more gently built dwellings have caught on around the world, including in Australia, where an entire town was constructed underground.

The Earth-loving architect had a good sense of humor about the day he declared 45 years ago this week. He said he knew hundreds of millions of people will do absolutely nothing to celebrate underground living, but that was OK with the World War II Marine and former Harvard teacher. Wells said he just wanted people to leave the land no worse than they found it — and living as close to Earth as possible was a start.

You can see two videos about underground architecture posted with the original article:

3 thoughts on “Could You Live Underground?”

  1. I was a follower of Malcolm Wells for many years and planned on making some kind of earthbermed home. But then I saw Owen Geiger’s earthbag TowerHouse and realized I could built an Earthbag home cheaper and use less processed materials in it’s construction. Malcolm’s wife still runs his bermed Art Gallery in Cape Cod, it’s worth checking out!


    • Earthbags lend themselves very well to underground housing, root cellars, dams, etc. The earthbag house that I built was heavily bermed.


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