PLAN 990 SQ. FT. (Straw Bale Earthship). (elevation)

1. The classic "earthship" is usually dug into a south facing slope, using earth compacted tires to form the "U's" and hold back the slope on the three sides below grade. Slanted south facing windows allow the winter sun to heat up the huge thermal mass of the earth linked structure.

Sometimes south facing clearstory windows provide light and air to the north side living areas below grade. The roof is often used to collect water which is stored in sisterns located in or out of the building. Grey water may be recycled using indoor (wetlands) and outdoor growing areas.

Often the earthship is build off grid with solar panels for producing electricity and pre-heating water. Composting toilets are often used.

2. The same basic structure could be build with straw bales replacing all or part of the earth filled tires, but by definition, could no longer be considered a true "Earthship". To use straw bales, a way must be found to protect bales placed below grade from moisture. An obvious compromise is to use tires (or other materials) below grade, and bales above.

3. In the course of developing this straw bale "earthship" design, I discovered that I really like the basic circulation pattern. Entry doors facing east and west access a central passage on the east west axis servicing use area to the north and south. More than a hallway, the passage way is an efficient part of the living space in the kitchen, living area and bath/storage entrace.

4. This plan (enclosing about 1000 sq. ft.) uses three "U's" each 14 feet wide with half "U's" on the ends to provide covered entrances, and hold back the slope. The central "U" is longer to facilitate a curved cut into the hill, and to make room for the centrally located indoor wetlands. Recycled water from the kitchen sink, bathtub, and basin flow direcly to the central wetlands from both directions.

The toilet is located on the south face and an outside wall for composting toilet design flexibility. Outside planters accept overflow from the wetlands, (and grey water directly), to grow plants for food, beauty and filtering harsh winter sunlight.

5. The east "U" contains the kitchen (split by the passageway), and a utility room or bedroom. Conventional washer, dryer, furnace, and hot water heater could be placed here, but as many owners will be off grid, I show this area as a bedroom.

This area could also be used for battery storage, other photovoltaic equipment, on demand water heater, water filters, pumps and other alternative systems equipment. This plan anticipates locating sistern water storage under the north bedroom floor(s) or under the raised bed platform(s).

5. The central "U" contains the wetlands (105 sq. ft. in this plan), the living area (bisected by the pasageway), and the possibility of a small office behind, again with optional sistern water storage below. A wood burning stove with wood storage is shown next to the wetlands low wall.

6. The west "U" contains the strip bathroom on the south window wall, the master bedroom to the north, with a storge passageway leading to the west exit. Sitting in the bathtub, one can see the outside planter and/or the wetlands through an interior window (optional). Optional stairs up to the master bedroom add great drama if the plan is stepped up the south facing hill.

7. Many design and building chalenges await the owner/builder of this house, but it may be worth the exceptional and dramatic results.

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