khayelitsha earthship: help set sail for a new housing destination

Submitted by MichaelE on Thu, 2010-11-11 08:55

work on the earthship beginswork on the earthship beginsAn earthship house is built using an eco-friendly building technique that makes use of old rubber tyres and mud as the building bricks for a house. This idea has been around since the 1970's and the first one was built in New Mexico.

There are also a few earthships built or under construction in Southern Africa. In 1996 Angel and Yvonne Kamp built one on the borders of the Walker Bay Reserve in Hermanus. There is an earthship project in Orania and one in Swaziland.

In Cape Town a local company called Tierra Construction Projects is trying to fund a prototype earthship house in Khayelitsha. This is going to be a recycling centre which will run a swop shop concept.

One of the reasons why is that the earthship should cost less to build, and makes use of old tyres. In South Africa less than 4% of tyres are properly recycled and disposed of. The project therefore would reduce waste and help to lower our impact on the environment, as the house is made of a waste product. Tyres are upcycled into homes. The house is also designed to be energy efficient.

They are also building a prototype home for Eric Makhwanaza and his family who are residents in Seawinds in Cape Town. Eric has been employed by Tierra. An added benefit of the project is that it is labour intensive and provides work for the unemployed, although most of the work so far has been done on a voluntary basis.

help needed
The amount that they need for the prototype recycling centre which is (30m2), is R90,000 (including VAT) and this includes all the site clearing plumbing etc. Tierra claim that they can save R133 per square meter by building an earthship building as opposed to a conventional building.

Tierra have struggled to find funding to complete the projects and are trying to fund the building of the centre themselves, but they are looking for further funding to complete the project.

Any help that you can give, either in terms of funding the house or helping to pack earth into tyres will help this house become a reality.

If Tierra can show that this is a viable alternative to low cost housing, it may well take root and we could see many more earthship houses around South Africa.

swop shop
At the recycling centre, Tierra hopes to set up an initiative with a major waste recycler to run a ‘swop-shop’. The concept of a 'swop shop' is that unemployed people will trade defective, but usable, waste-products (like pens with the logo on skew, etc) for tins, bottles, etc. and is targeted mainly at the local schools and children. It is intended that some of the revenue generated from the collected recyclables will pay a small wage to the centre manager.

If you can make a contribution, contact Nick Ralphs on 084 280 7028.

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