A new documentary film looks at the achievements of Michael Reynolds, who for 20 years has been building eco-friendly, off-grid "earth ship" houses built out of natural materials and car tires.
"The ziggurats – constructed from refuse such as beer cans – are the brainchild of Michael Reynolds, an eco-architect who has spent most of his professional life perfecting the concept, which derives its name from the earth-filled tyres that make up the walls. He built the first example in Taos, New Mexico, in 1988 and, 20 years later, still lives there.
Due to his hard work, there are more than 1,000 'earth ships' across New Mexico, and the word has spread; hundreds more are springing up in the US, in Scotland, Normandy, Spain and even Siberia, and in April 2007, permission was granted to build 16 in Brighton. Now, Reynolds' life and work are celebrated in Garbage Warrior, a documentary screening in cinemas around the UK.
Inspired by the nascent green movement, Reynolds came up with a building that promoted several tenets: it should be 'off-the-electricity-grid' (which could be achieved by solar power); it should be made from used car-tyres (common landfill material) and incorporate rainwater-recycling facilities, too.
To achieve this vision, he moved in the early Seventies to the desert near Taos, where tolerant planning laws and sympathetic local government enabled him to experiment: some houses looked like castles, others like pyramids. Over the next 25 years, he created an energy-independent community, but his flouting of regulations landed him in hot water: and, in 1997, his communities were shut down.
The documentary...charts his long battle with planners."
The trailer, from the official movie site (some foul language, might not be safe for work):