Low-Cost Survival Shelter Earthship for Cyclone Pam Survivors

“Earthships can be built to create fantastic survival shelters. This simple shelter is being constructed in Te Puke (New Zealand) as part of a training program aimed at teaching survivors of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu how to construct these robust buildings for their communities.”

More info on this project here: http://www.livingbiginatinyhouse.com/survival-shelter-earthship/
We don’t often report on earthship projects since they’re so much more labor intensive than earthbags. However, this project is interesting, and if adapted to earthbags then it could be practical enough to catch on. As I keep saying, if you’re planning to build with tires, do a simple test to compare ramming one tire and one earthbag. There’s about 10-fold difference in time and labor. Multiply that times hundreds of tires and … well, you get the idea. (Actually I’m surprised people are still building with tires. It seems like people would have figured out by now how much extra work is involved. Example – the plaster work alone would take 2-3 times longer than plastering an earthbag house due to the huge spaces between tires that have to be filled.) You can build an earthship type house with earthbags and still get all the water collection and solar features for off grid living.

5 thoughts on “Low-Cost Survival Shelter Earthship for Cyclone Pam Survivors”

    • Rammed tire builders say they have 1-2 studies that show the tires do not offgas fumes into the living space once covered in plaster. Maybe this is true, maybe not. I’d want to know more about who did the studies. You can ‘prove’ anything if the testers are biased. Walk into any tire shop and you’ll get a good idea how much tires are offgassing. Some people may not notice the bad smell because they smoke, drink, eat unhealthy food, etc. But if your body is very clean and healthy then the bad smell is overwhelming.

  1. Hi Owen, I live in the Outer Hebrides, a windy collection of islands, the most north westerly islands in Europe. Last year we had our first hurricane. I am wanting to start experimenting with earth bag structures with one on my allotment. The water level is very high and the area is primarily peat, when you do dig it out it is very heavy and wet then crumbly when it dries. Traditionally it has been used for turf houses and also as the main source to burn on open fires inside the house as there are very few trees.
    I know I will need to start with layers of hard core bags but as I dig I will be creating pools for water to collect so I need to be careful where I take the earth from, any suggestions?

    • Earthbag building may not work in that area. Earthbag walls are very heavy and need stable soil to rest on. Talk to a civil engineer in your area.


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