Category Archives: Earthships

Projection Map Infographic

Zero-Footprint House Projection Mapped Info-graphic Display

Over in the technology and geomatics wood shop in Wilson Wallis, I worked with Bill Hemphill to cut out the different components of my projection map stage. The vector line image I created in illustrator from my drawing (fig. 1) were imported into AutoCad. I cut two sheets (fig. 2 & 3 and Video 1) one of the house and the system components, and another of the exterior wall structure. These two fourth inch wooden layers will be stacked and glued together (fig. 4) to create a 3-dimensional stage to project my house info-graphic videos on.

I brought the same vector drawing that I cut the stage with into Photoshop and painted it with a Wacom Cintiq to mimic a watercolor architectural rendering style. Each layer of this colored illustration was imported into After Effects (fig. 5) and I have begun creating a series of 3 animations that will depict how the house functions in conjunction with its surroundings. (fig. 6 and Video 2)

Video 1

Video 2

Two-Story Underground House

Inspired by the earthship’s ingenious design, this model of a modernization of an underground house was this semester’s project in Architectural Rendering. Use of recycled materials such as refurbished barnwood floors (fig. 2) and a large front-facing greenhouse with solar panels (fig. 6)  would cut down the cost of the build and energy efficiency of this structure.

The open, modern floorplan (fig. 5) has a sleeping loft with a bonus space to the left, which would make an excellent artist studio (fig. 9)  with the natural light from the top windows. Local stone would be stacked on the house’s face, (fig 1 & 6) bringing in a vernacular material so the house blends into it’s environment seamlessly. The back side of the house contains no windows because this is where the earth berm is located in order for the house to benefit from the soil’s warmth.

While the model shell itself was created in Maya, the furniture components were built in google sketchup and imported into the model for staging purposes. The scope of this project was rather ambitious on my part, though I still intend to move forward with the lighting and rendering of the model to create more realistic interiors.

Reading List: Earthship Project

After a many hours of leafing through references, I have constructed a list of books to use for my research on sustainable structures.


  • Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options

    By Greg Paul

  • The New Independent Home: People and Houses that Harvest the Sun

    By Michael Potts

  • Comfort in Any Climate

    By Michael E. Reynolds

  • Living Off the Grid: A Simple Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Self-Reliant Supply of Energy, Water, Shelter, and More

    By David Black


  • Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

    By Rachel Kaplan, K. Ruby Blume

  • Radical Homepakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

    By Shannon Hays

Materials & Textures

  • The Natural Plaster Book: Earth, Lime, and Gypsum Plasters for Natural Homes

    By Cedar Rose Guelberth, Dan Chiras

  • Plasters, Paints and Preservation

    By Carol Crews

  • Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques

    By Kaki Hunter, Donald Kiffmeyer

  • The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources

    Edited by Catherine Wanek, Michael Smith, Joseph F. Kennedy


  • Earthship: How to Build Your Own

    Michael E. Reynolds

  • Earthship: Evolution beyond economics

    Michael E. Reynolds

  • Hacking the Earthship: In Search of an Earth-Shelter that WORKS for EveryBody

    By Rachel Prestion Prinz

  • Earthship Volumes 1-3

    Michael E. Reynolds

  • The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosphical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage

    By Ianto Evans

  • The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources

    By Joseph F. Kennedy, Michael Smith, Catherine Wanek

  • Handmade houses: A century of Earth-friendly home design

    By Richared Olesn

Water Systems

Curvaceous or Circular (Un)reasonability.

Beginning the research phase of my zero-footprint house design means idea-finding. There is a broad range of materials used in the construction of an “Earthship” (which is what the Tazo, New Mexico people call them,) and sustainability is not my only concern. As  graphic designer I am a believer in the principle of aesthetics selling a concept. Good ideas often go unnoticed without good design. It seems that many of the Earthships built so far look like a more rudimentary styling of Bag-End from Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” The appeal of this rounded, cave-like look may be limiting their audience. Being a lover of art nouveau, I understand the appeal of natural curves. Yet, from a modern standpoint I question some of the practicality of curvilinear everything.

Why can’t sustainable mean also modern, clean, bold homes with a handmade touch? Take Richard Olson for example. His book “Handmade Houses” documents the wide array of what craftsmanship can mean.