Planet Earthship: Explore Sustainable Architecture in Taos, New Mexico

Architect Mike Reynolds is a firm believer that one man’s trash is another man’s insulation. A pile of discarded tires and beer cans inspired Reynolds to start building houses out of materials that most people throw away. The company that Reynolds founded—Earthship Biotecture—currently builds unique, sustainable homes around the world.


Courtesy of Earthship Biotecture

Mike Reynolds decided that the stark yet beautiful desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico was the perfect place to build sustainable homes. Reynolds refers to the structures that he builds as earthships. Each earthship is built out of adobe and upcycled materials such as cans, bottles, and tires. Earthship residents rely on solar panels for electricity, a greenhouse full of herbs and edible plants to supplement their food supply, and a cistern to collect rainwater for bathing and drinking.

Each earthship has a unique design that resembles a cozy, slightly elongated 21st century hobbit hole. Numerous earthships around the globe have been converted into Airbnbs and other rental properties so that visitors can experience sustainable architecture firsthand. Visitors are often amazed that—despite a lack of heating and cooling equipment—earthships are able to maintain a steady temperature of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to adobe walls and insulation made out of rubber tires and beer cans.

Colored upcycled glass bottles are the decoration of choice.

Colored upcycled glass bottles are the decoration of choice. | Courtesy of Earthship Biotecture

If you’re interested in learning how to build an earthship, the Earthship Biotecture Academy in Taos is an excellent place to learn. Various construction and environmental experts teach students how to build sustainable, affordable earthships. Founding architect Mike Reynolds is passionate about sustainable architecture and is always eager to share his knowledge with people from around the globe.

Visitors who are curious about earthships are encouraged to tour the Earthship Biotecture Visitor Center in Tres Piedras, New Mexico. For a small fee, you can take a self-guided tour that will introduce you to the philosophy of sustainable architecture, as well as some of the sights and textures of some of the most distinctive structures on the planet. The arid desert of New Mexico is the ideal place to learn about resource conservation and utilization. In the desert, every drop of water and thriving plant counts.

Earthship educational center under construction in Taos County, NM

Earthship educational center under construction in Taos County, NM
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If you’re committed to being as environmentally conscious as possible, a visit to the earthships of Taos is an absolute must. Earthships are proof that we can consume less, use our resources wisely, and still live in a stylish, comfortable home adorned with glass bottles that look like glowing jewels in the sunshine.

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