Nestled among gums in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills lies an elegant home, made largely of rubbish – old car tyres, glass bottles and recycled cans. Such unconventional materials are key to constructing an Earthship, the now global ‘radically sustainable’ building technique pioneered by renegade American eco architect Michael Reynolds since the 1970s.
It was a visit to Adelaide by Michael himself that sparked this project at Ironbank, one of the first official Earthships to be built in Australia. Michael had popped by to speak at UniSA in 2009 at the behest of Martin (Marty) Freney, an industrial design lecturer there. Afterwards, the pair headed up to Ironbank with a few students for a hands-on lesson in creating the Earthship’s fundamental building block; tyres ram-packed full of soil, which they casually arranged into a U-shaped wall. In the years that followed, Marty gradually realised he had the makings of his own small Earthship and after gaining council approval he launched the project in earnest.