While grass will cover much of the building, its south face will be visible, showing off a facade of glass and concrete in front of a greenhouse.
Skala said construction of the roughly 1,000-square-foot demonstration building, based on architect Michael Reynolds’ “Earthship Biotecture” designs, will begin within the next week and should be completed this summer.
The “fully sustainable, carbon-zero building” will be built on the site of the former Nature Center’s pond shed, which was demolished this week to make way for the new structure. The shed was an old garage-turned-classroom, the central meeting location for many pond study and watershed classes for schools, Scouts and others.
“We will continue to use the new building as a classroom, and will also use it as a meeting space, a demo-model of what people can do in their own homes, and more,” according to the center.
“We’re so thrilled about it,” Skala said. “We want to demonstrate these (sustainability) concepts.”
Workers will construct the walls by stacking row after row of tires, laid out on the ground in a U-shape. The tires will be filled with soil. Workers then fill in some of the gaps with concrete and other recycled materials such as glass bottles and cans. Finally, a grass berm will cover those walls, officials said.
The tires are a prime example of sustainability because they can be used as they are; they don’t have to be broken down or anything to be reused. The tires become “building bricks,” Skala said.
A $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is paying for the project. The costs have been reduced because of a large outpouring of community support. Local residents, companies and unions are providing skills, supplies and services, the nature center said.
“This has been a true community project,” Skala said.
She said the nature center will continue raising money to fund future improvements to the WEB.
Anyone interested in donating funds or volunteering for the project can call the Silver Lake Nature Center at 215-785-1177. For more information on the project, check out www.silverlakenaturecenter.org. For information on Earthship Biotecture, go to www.earthship.com.
The nature center is comprised of some 235 acres of woods, lakes, marshes and meadows on 4.5 miles of trails on Bath Road.
Danny Adler: 215-949-4205;