Michael Reynolds, founder and creator of the concept, came to Taos, after graduating from Architecture School in 1969.
Inspired by television news stories about the problem of trash and the lack of affordable housing, Michael created the “can brick” out of discarded steel and tin cans. Ten empty cans, four flat and six unflattened, were wired together to make a building block.
The early buildings used discarded steel or tin beer cans (this was before recycling existed). These cans were empty and simply used as free units of space with which to form light, strong concrete walls. These homes made from “garbage” immediately started getting press coverage though they were not nearly as sophisticated and the Earthships of today. Garbage is now all around the globe, especially tires, highly available and highly damaging to the environment when left in the nature.
Over the next decade, designs constantly evolved to incorporate thermal mass, passive solar and natural ventilation. The houses we now build with earth rammed tires are so strong that no foundation is required, giving load bearing walls and thermal mass storage. Solar glazing along the whole front of the structure allows the sun to heat the floors and the walls providing comfortable, stable temperatures inside without using fossil fuels or wood. Operable windows and skylights provided natural ventilation to cool the buildings.
1969 Graduated University of Cincinnati, Bachelor of Architecture
1971 Thesis published in Architectural Record
1974 Participated in the United Nations Conference on Low Cost Housing for 3rd World
1973 Obtained patent for building block of cans
2005 The Sustainable Development Testing Sites Act is drafted by Reynolds
1971 to Present Experimentation and development of Sustainable Building techniques
The 2005 documentary, The Garbage Warrior, follows Michael Reynolds as he works to pass the “The Sustainable Development Testing Site Act.” Legislation that allows land to be set aside for the testing and development of sustainable buildings. It gives innovators the freedom to dream up a solution, and go out and test their methods the next day. The building pictured to the right is the result of Reynolds’ legislative battle, EVE, also known as Environmental Village Ecologies.
Michael Reynolds and has appeared on a regular basis over the last 40 years on the radio, on television, film, and in print media around the world from Asia, Europe, Australia, to North and South America, and the world-wide interest in Reynolds’ work is only growing. Reynolds has also been invited to lecture about his innovations around the world including; The Parliament of Sweden, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, National Technical Library in Prague, and The World Wellness Project Summit in Melbourne and more.
You can watch/read some of our favourite picks below…
CNN International: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDRstVYF7wA
“Don’t flush your freedom away" (movie) https://vimeo.com/162741946
Earthship Academy (By John Senften) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCytizMTeoI
Nevex, a sustainable school for Uruguay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-mcnoPPEWc
The Globe and Mail (about our upcoming project in Canada): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/eco-friendly-home-built-free-of-charge-for-six-nations-woman/article29507455/
You can download Michael Reynolds Media Resume for more highlights.