Earthships are a concept introduced in the 1970s, of using waste tires, glass bottles, and cans to create a "sustainable" home that is off the grid, and makes its own water, heat and cooling. Exterior walls are constructed of earth-filled tires to provide thermal mass cooling and interior walls are constructed of a honeycomb of aluminum cans and glass bottles. They are artistically beautiful and the houses appear to rise out of the earth as if by natural commandment.
I have some concerns with earthships from the many years I have worked in architecture in New Mexico, as I helped friends and clients who frustrated that their homes do not function as designed. I have even had to consult on several demos that resulted from irreparable mold problems - what a nightmare!
In the following links, my peers who share these concerns and I share some of what we learned along the way. There was so much information that we ended up writing a 400+ page book called Hacking the Earthship to address the common concerns, earthship research, and alternative materials and concepts that work within the earthship framework. We'll link to the full book, at Amazon and on e-readers, below.
If you don't want the book for yourself, or are just doing a little preliminary research... our earthship blog contains the most important parts of the book, which we wanted to make freely available.
Tips and Tricks to Make Earthships Work
Earthship Pros and Cons
Where can I go to learn to build my new home? Is Earthship Academy the way?
Adapting your home to changing circumstances: Universal Design Tips and Tricks for Accessibility
Why you should NOT retrofit your home to be more “like an #Earthship”
Earthship Biotecture Tour at the UNM-Taos Sustainability Institute @SustainTaos
Earthships: The Phoenix