• The Earthship at Tussock Hill Vineyard

    The Earthship at Tussock Hill Vineyard
  • The Earthship at Tussock Hill Vineyard in the summer

    The Earthship at Tussock Hill Vineyard

The Earthship Project

Having built ourselves a Passive Solar Eco home here in the vineyard on the hill, of course, we were interested in new and sustainable methods of building.

With the big earthquake of 2011, the rebuild of much of Christchurch got a few of us thinking about using this as an opportunity to explore new and more sustainable methods of construction.

My old friend Mike Lillian opened the idea up of asking the Earthship guru Mike Reynolds to come over to Christchurch and do a ‘hands on’ workshop of how to build one of his Earthships. These are a unique and amazing structures built by using recycled materials…. car tyres, tin cans, and bottles.

Eventually we found a window of opportunity where he had two weeks free for a visit. The deal was that he comes and we look after him, pay the airfare and he would do the workshop for free as a way of helping in the Christchurch recovery. A Canterbury local, Rosa Henderson, had been working with him on a project in South America and clinched the deal.

We provided the site, local businesses donated the materials and away we went. Mike Reynolds said 20 to maybe 30 people would be the max for a ‘hands on”’ workshop build. So a team of us set about organising things. 3000 recycled cans, 150 bottles, 120 car tyres, sand and cement and rebar, plastic and polystyrene. Turei, Rosa, Mikey, Brian myself and Lachlan set about the work.

We ended up with a great response from local businesses…thank you all…. and a workshop with 40 participants and a waiting list of almost 100. People came from all over New Zealand as well as Australia and South America, and it was a great community project done over four days.

The concept of an Earthship structure

is one of sustainability and the reuse of waste materials.

The tyres rammed with earth create the mass and wall structure that is solid and insulating and the cans and bottles provide shape, form and design. It’s all bound together with earth, steel and plaster. They are a lovely organic shape and have an eco -richness and in a fully done model, are completely self sufficient. The purpose of the workshop was to teach people the basic methodology by constructing together a small sample Earthship.

All in all it was a fabulous few days and a hive of communal activity and learning and as you can see it stands proud and strong. It is open to the public to come and see, to get a feel of just another way of building. Its not for everybody but hopefully it will help get us thinking outside the square when it comes to building and sustainability.

The alpaca and the earthshipYou can see the Vimeo video of it done by Gerard Smythe (our story at 17:30).

Mike Reynolds holding court
at Christchurch Earthship build

Music from the Earth

A documentary by Gerard Smyth. Our story is at 17:30