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Discoveries in the Netherlands part 2 - Earthship
April 16, 2017
Bonjour, good morning,
Happy easter on this sunday the 16th of April !!
We are still in the centre of consciousness development, where the shy spring has arrived. We had the chance to participate in many interesting activities which did good to us and through which we learned a lot. We will tell you more in a future article.
Here is now the
discoveries in the Netherlands part 2
The earthships of Olst
Saturday the 25th of February, we have discovered, guided by Wouter, this particular neighourhood...
The city of Olst (north east of the Netherlands), has witnessed the growth of 23 earthships, six years ago.
Here is the concept of an earthship, applied to the ''Aardhuis'' of Olst (Earthship in Dutch).
The idea came from Michael Reynolds, american architect. The goal was to build on your own an ecological and self-sufficient house fulfilling these six criteria:
- The temperature must stay good thanks to solar and thermal energy (insulation)
- Solar and wind electricity
- Independent sewage system
- Construction with natural and recycled materials
- Water recovery
- Food production
One can build it on his own because there is no knowledge needed, the construction is accessible to all, just requiring few friends to help ! Some workshops and ínstruction manual are available on the internet to teach and support the construction. The building time can vary from 30 days to many years, depending on the help and motivation. Aardehuis of Olst, them, have built 23 houses within two years, with the help of more than a thousand volunteer coming from all around the world.
The house is built with ecological, sustainable and recycled materials. By using the natural local materials (earth, straw, wood, stones, etc.) but also by giving a new life to used objects (bottles, cans, tires, etc.). Here, at Aardehuis, the construction don't follow precisely the ''earthship'' architecture because several houses don't have the typical ''tire-wall'' of the earthship. All the houses are made of straw and earth, but only half of them have got the walls partly made of used tires. Very good to insulate, the tires until then hard to recycle, find a specific use for the wellness of the house. Some walls are also composed of glass bottled wich let the light go through.
An earthship is willing to be as self-sufficient as possible in energy, water use, and waste use. The goal being to be as independent as possible from the state services ( electricity, water sewage,...). At Aardehuis each house has got compost toilet, poo are composted then used in the garden.
For the water they pump it straight from the groundwater then, when used, they process it themselves on the spot through a natural filter system (stones, reeds,...) so it can be given back to nature (which leads to the groundwater again).
For electricity, they use solar panels.
For the heating, the houses are built in a way that it doesn't waste energy, with big windows facing the South, where the sun is the strongest all year long. The heat stocked by the walls during the daytime is spread all over the night time. When it's very cold, they burn wood. Wouter, our guide, has got a revolutionary stove which spread the heat in the water pipes to heat the water, and on stones which will keep the warmth for a long time. The heat waste, up in the chimney is very low. Facing north where there is no sun-heat, there is no windows, not to lose any energy. Some tricks are found to brighten the rooms which are far away from the south light. As you can see on the picture below, some mirrors are put around the roof windows to bring in some brightness !
These 23 houses have been built within the same project, by the owners themselves and the volunteers. These houses had one common architect who worked together with everyone all the way through the construction. The inhabitant have build all together a communal building wich can be used by all to give workshop, to have parties, to gather,... A community spirit rules over this little village where people know each others and help each others.
It was for us a great discovery. We found these place very comfy, bright, warm, like in a normal house, even more !! Here is the point that touched us and that may touch you as well: as a matter of fact the life in this small village seems very peaceful, everyone has got his house and no one owes anything to the community, except maybe to compost your poop and to participate in the meetings for the good evolution of the village. Other than that, everyone works in the city or elsewhere, everyone has a single or family life, everyone has his own life rythm. It's not a community life but almost; it's not being off of the system and the cities, but almost; it's an in-between, a good balance we liked a lot. We find it's a great way to live respecting the nature, without being too off the grid or cut from society. It is possible to change the way you live by moving into an earthship because it doesn't involve too much changes in the daily habits. This way of living offers a soft reconnection to the simplicity of life concerning all the natural needs of the human being.
PS: the comment space has been created at the end of each articles, don't hesitate to share your thoughts ! And the website is completly translated in English, play with the flag if you want to learn french...