Build your economical, ecological and efficient home

The concept of this type of housing is based on a spirit of recycling combined with the use of renewable energies, which is intended, in addition to making them very economical, to help decontaminate and reduce the impact on the environment and allow their low-polluting integration. the same.

In a London newspaper I find the news that England - Brighton and Fife, Scotland - becomes the first country in the European Union to officially accept the construction of ecological houses made from waste materials (garbage) known as Earthships (in English: "land ship", "land ship" or simply: eco-houses) made entirely with recycled material: bottles, aluminum cans and car tires, among others.


He "Earthship" is an architectural model of autonomous housing developed for more than thirty years from the original works of the American architect Michael Reynolds, based mainly on four elements:

1.- The orientation of the house towards the south - valid for the northern hemisphere and where there are seasons - in a design that allows optimal capture of light and solar heat. This passive energy is achieved with the construction of walls on the North, East and West faces, and a South face completely open to the outside through glass.

2.- Use of used tires, placed in a horizontal position, as if they were large bricks, filled with compacted earth, for the load-bearing walls of the house, resulting in an incredibly stable wall, with the benefits of the 'thermal mass' that It allows maintaining a constant average temperature of between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius inside the home. This is the principle by which heat moves from warm areas to cold areas so that they are cool during the day and warm at night. Cans and bottles are used for the interior dividing walls.

3.- Use of low-polluting energy, such as solar and wind for domestic consumption, which in addition to being cheap and "clean" make the construction of the "earthship" possible anywhere due to its independence from the usual supply networks.

4.- Installation of water collection and storage systems, as well as the treatment of reusable wastewater thanks to a system of filters and drains, which minimizes and improves consumption.

A housing model with many advantages

A very important aspect is that this type of construction uses around 10% of the energy normally required for the construction of a home, if we take into account the energy used in each of the transformation processes of construction materials (example: cement , ceramics, plastics...) and that corresponding to heating, cooling and lighting of a home. It is worth remembering that in the world, 50 percent of the gases that warm the atmosphere are produced by the construction industry rather than by airplanes or cars.

The above leads me to think about the "advantage" that developing countries have over the old continent in this sense; In our case, recycled homes are the "daily bread", for many years and without a license they have been built daily in our cities, forming neighborhoods of misery and invasion, where sticks, cans and cardboard, among others, have a new opportunity to become housing - not at all decent - for so many poor and homeless families, a situation aggravated by problems such as "forced displacement" which is very common in Colombia.

To have an order of magnitude, it is worth remembering that in the case of Ibagué, with a population of around 400 thousand inhabitants, nearly 3.000 displaced families - 15.000 people - have arrived, dispossessed of their plots in the countryside, rushing to safeguard their lives and in search of a new life project, a safe roof and work in a city where unemployment is around 25%.

Finally, it is worth remembering that we have at hand a natural, abundant, economical, renewable resource such as guadua - our bamboo - with which we can make very beautiful and economical homes.

Architect: Mario Alvarez Urueña