If you’ve never heard of “Earthships” before, well, pull up a chair. The homes are a funky fusion of sustainable living, lots of dirt, and off-grid life—and you can rent one via Airbnb.
Anybody not super into the sustainable/alternative housing movement can absolutely be forgiven for having no idea what Earthships are. I’ll freely admit my familiarity with them is based on the period of my life where I read obsessively about alternative housing designs—here’s looking at you, monolithic domes and straw-bale construction—including Earthships.
The concept was pioneered in the 1970s by architect Michael Reynolds and combined traditional rammed earth construction techniques with modern materials. Those modern materials are primarily recycled, such as using old tires to make the forms for the rammed earth, incorporating discarded bottles or cans into walls to create insulative spaces and cut down on materials, and so forth.
But that’s only half the Earthship equation. The other half is engineering the home to use as little energy as possible. Everything about the homes is designed to help the home minimize energy use through passive and active measures. Windows are placed in such a way to maximize heat gain in the winter, water is collected off the roof, a “greywater” system safely increases water reuse in the home, electrical needs are met with solar panels, and so on. The homes might look whimsical, but the science and engineering of their design is a fascinating look at how far you can push home design in pursuit of energy efficiency and off-grid living.
Because they’re such an alternative and odd thing compared to a traditional home, however, it’s definitely something you’d want to experience in person before committing to. While the organization founded by Reynolds to promote Earthships, Earthship Biotecture, has offered rentals for years now, Airbnb has made the experience a whole lot easier and more streamlined.
Over at Insider they’ve rounded up a collection of listings for Earthships in Arizona, the spiritual home of the movement, but if you search for Earthships on Airbnb, you’ll find them all over the world including places as far from Arizona as New Zealand and Croatia.
Far away from a nearby Earthship rental location or wisely avoiding travel during a pandemic? No worries, you can get your fix with the video above or other virtual tours like this one from RelaxShack and Living Big in a Tiny House.
And hey, even if living in a cool off-grid Hobbit hole isn’t in the cards for you dreaming of a house where bananas grow in your kitchen and you have no power bill is a pretty great way to spend the afternoon.