I have been interested in sustainable building for decades – I remember sitting in the birthing area of the USS Saipan in the mid 1990’s reading about Earthships and missile silo homes. For some reason I am very taken by the concept of rammed earth tires as a building material. However, the idea of pounding 3 or 4 four wheelbarrows of dirt into a tire over the course of 45 minutes multiplied by the 1000-15000 tires per house keeps the idea in the back of mind instead in front of me under a swinging sledgehammer.
However, the technology has evolved and I recently found two sites that gave me some ideas that bring the concept back into focus. The first is a place called Blue Rock Station. They sell a self-published little booklet about how to use tires as a foundation for other building designs. This allows you to build with tires without solely building with tires. Their concept allows the use of less cement, and is perfect for incorporating into cob, cordwood, or straw bale construction.
The second is a place called Touch The Earth Ranch who have found and published a college paper on the use of tire construction where one sidewall was removed. This allows a tire to be filled in 10 minutes instead of 40-45 – and while the test show it is less strong, it is still plenty strong enough for most purposes.
My plan at dual homestead is to incorporate both ideas to all building with tires that is faster and more flexible than typical earthships – basically we are going to build several small sheds with waist high tire walls, and framing around earthbag, cordwood, strawbale, and any other methods we want to try.
I figure there public place someone can go to experience the multiple types of alternative construction – so Dual Homestead should be the first.
The plan is to turn each building into a specific workshop – electrical, metalworking, woodworking, storage, and firearms related – and connect them all with one roof so we have several dog-trots to allow for open air classrooms and working space.
Both James and I have no experience building with tires, but that’s not going to stop us as we experiment and learn.
Stay tuned so you can learn from our mistakes and hopefully save you some expense and heartache.