AN “EARTHSHIP” IN ROCKY POINT

Oct 4, 2013 by Abraham Meza Lopez

We should really learn about the Earth (the physics and biology of it) so we can work with it – to make sure we can live here without destroying it…Mike Reynolds

When we see a trash can we look at it with a disgusted glance; trash is something worthless or meaningless and must be eliminated, but have you ever wondered if trash exists for nature? Any water you drink today is the same water that has ever existed on Earth, because water belongs to an endless cycle. The same is true for all living organisms and the elements that compose them. In nature, everything is used again and again; garbage is a human creation. But what if that “garbage” can be converted into something of worth and meaning, such as to provide humans with dwellings?

Earthships are planned to be 100% sustainable houses, using recycled materials with no need of water or electricity to regulate the interior temperature, grow food, or reuse waste. Earthship is a model created by Mike Reynolds as an adaptation for the severely polluted days that are coming, if humans continue with their present life style, constantly consuming new resources. Earthships are built with reused materials such as tires, aluminum cans and plastic bottles, filled with compacted sand, and integrated with other technologies like solar cells and solar or dry toilets.Jeanette Clifton, long time CEDO volunteer and supporter attended a workshop in the early 90’s on Earthship architecture in New Mexico where she met Mike Reynolds. Returning to Rocky Point, she proposed to CEDO’s director to build an Earthship that could be a model to the community and at the same time enlarge CEDO’s facilities for an office or a classroom for visiting students. Jeanette looked for funding to build it and finally on December 5th, 1992 the construction started, with Jeanette setting the first tire and Puerto Peñasco’s Mayor compacting the sand into this first of 240 tires.

After almost a year of construction and the help of many local people, visitors, students and others, in the autumn of 1993, the first section of the Earthship was finished and inaugurated. This first Earthship consists of a room encased by windows, like a green house in Mike Reynolds model, and an 18-foot diameter dome entirely built of aluminum cans and cement. During its construction one row of cans was laid each day, using no forms to support it, but using a string, anchored at the center of the room and with a knot at the end, to position each can in the dome at the proper distance and angle to form a perfectly curved dome. This is a double dome consisting of an inner can-dome and the outer poured concrete dome with a 16 -inch space between domes packed with insulating halophyte straw. The base of the dome was built with tires, aluminum cans, sand, and a very special material, “Adobe,” or mud mixed with halophyte straws, highly recommended for optimum insulation.

A few years later, the Earthship project continued with the construction of a second section. This new section, just like the first one, used tires that give enough support and flexibility that no foundation was needed. Aluminum cans, compacted sand and concrete helped to complete the design of this section. These materials gave the building a non-standard shape making the walls seem like waves.

Today the Earthship functions as a visitor center, classroom and gift shop. People that visit CEDO are able to learn about the Upper Gulf of California and the Sonoran Desert with the information provided by exhibits and staff. Visitors also can support CEDO conservation programs through proceeds from the gift shop.

The original Earthship design envisioned solar cells and a solar bathroom too. To make it 100% sustainable, CEDO hopes one day to add these technologies to the facility.

To reach this goal you can help! Help us by visiting it or by making a special donation to reach this goal! You also can help CEDO’s conservation programs by joining a NaturArte tour, buying at the gift shop, becoming a member of CEDO, buying a Sea of Support tile or becoming a volunteer or attendee of the events that CEDO organizes. Visit CEDO’s webpage at www.cedointercultural.org, “like” us on Facebook, or send an e-mail to info@cedointercultural.org for more information.

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