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The Potters' House

Some years ago, a friend of mine ran across an article in a Bancroft, Ontario, Canada newspaper, describing a house being built near that town. We went to investigate; and after a breakfast visit with my friend's relatives, we found much to give us hope. We found... the Potter's place.

Chuck and Pat Potter, with a lot of volunteer help, are building an 'Earth home' on a rocky hilltop south of Bancroft. They have dug into the hilltop and are raising the walls of a self-sufficient building that will be their home and office. The building has solar power, and solar heat, and recycles its water. The earth is bermed up over its northern walls, and its south-facing roof will bear a garden.

But it is the method of construction that opened our eyes.

The main walls of the structure are built of used tires, laid concrete-block fashion, and filled with densely-packed earth. Concrete 'parging' covers these walls, smoothing them, and surrounding aluminum pop cans which occupy space and reduce the amount of concrete needed. In addition, the walls are built as 'U'-shaped bays, with the open end of the U facing the sun, and the arch butting into the earth. The walls thus built are immensely thick and strong, and (according to the Potters) qualify as load-bearing foundation walls in their own right. A low wall closes the south side of the house, beneath wide windows that admit light and warmth.

This design is inspired by the work of architect Michael Reynolds, of New Mexico in the USA.

Michael Reynolds has been developing this design for many years. His aim was to provide a house-design which can be easily and inexpensively built by the owner, and which will use less energy and resources than a standard North American 'stick-built' house.

He started a company called 'Solar Survival Architecture' in Taos, New Mexico. Now known as Earthship Biotecture, it sells plans and books, offers tours and courses, and sells finished dwellings.

The Potters' house itself was designed by Toronto architect Martin Liefhebber.  

More Information

The location of the house.

The construction of the house.

Frequently-asked questions about the house.

Pictures of the house.

Contacts and links relating to the house: other websites, suppliers, design resources, and so on.

A glossary explaining unusual terms in these web pages.

Events concerning the Potters, their house, or similar affairs.

Money, Jobs, And Earthships: a speculative essay. What happens when people don't need money for their daily necessities?

Related books and magazines.
To the intro page.
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Last Change: 2006-02-19
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