Three months after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed people’s homes in the Philippines in November 2013, a team from Michael Reynolds’ Taos-based Earthship Biotecture program was there. Reynolds and team members partnered with local residents in Barangay Batug to design and erect a “windship” building out of donated materials, including tires, bottles, cardboard, coconut lumber, and bamboo. The structure, which would become a new community center, was designed to be wind-resistant and a prototype for community rebuilding efforts.
Practical, low-cost shelter based on hands-on innovation is at the heart of the earthship initiative begun by Reynolds in the 1970s. The types of research that result in self-sufficient dwellings that can be exported into such situations is not possible without the Official U.S.A. Sustainable Testing Site. That’s what a sign says when you visit the Earthship Biotecture World Headquarters in Taos County. “There are two acres in the entire U.S. that are approved for sustainable-housing testing, and they’re right here,” said Shanti Taylor, who was welcoming people at the Earthship Visitor Center during a recent visit.
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