In West Philadelphia, organizers use tires and earth to create an ambitious and energy-passive home
At a glance, the open-air lot at the corner of 41st and Lancaster appears to be littered with garbage—tires piled up in the northwest corner, mounds of dirt and cement mixed in with empty bottles and cans. But these familiar objects are not strewn about randomly; they have been intentionally collected to build the first urban Earthship. When it’s completed, it could be the most sustainable building in Philadelphia.
An Earthship is a passive solar house made from both natural and recycled materials (such as earth-filled tires), which makes it much more affordable to build than a conventional home. The design is the brainchild of New Mexico based iconoclast architect Michael Reynolds. Five years ago, Philadelphia resident Rashida Ali-Campbell watched Garbage Warrior, a documentary about Reynolds, and her life was changed. “Explosions went off in my head,” Ali-Campbell says. “Why haven’t we seen that here already?” […]