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New Earthship prepares to land in the Dordogne

A new ‘Earthship’ is coming to France, after the ecological home company of the same name began construction in Biras, in the Dordogne.

An ‘Earthship’ (known in French as a ‘géonef’) is a concept created in the 1970s by US hippie and architect Michael Reynolds. It denotes a livable home created from recycled or eco-friendly materials, which is totally self-sufficient for all power, water, and other needs.

The new build at Biras is expected to be finished by August 15.

It will feature 150m² of living space, and will be built almost entirely from recycled materials, including used tyres, glass bottles, and metal drinks cans, which have been collected in partnership with the Mairie of Périgueux.

Clad in wood, the house will also feature solar panels to create its electricity; collect and filter rainwater to convert into the water supply; and use a geothermal heating method.

The build will be half-underground, and aim to blend into the countryside.  

When complete, the house will be taken over and owned by a young French couple and their little girl, for a total cost of €330,000.

As with many of Reynolds’ projects, the construction site is also being used as a ‘building work school’, with 80 local people doing work experience on the scheme.

There are several similar houses in France, but just two are officially approved by Reynolds, and therefore the only ones allowed to call themselves ‘Earthships’.

The first residential Earthship was built in Belgium in 2000.

The first in France was built in 2007, in the village of Ger, and initially run by Kevan and Gillian Trott. It was sold in 2014 and is currently used as a holiday home. 

This was followed by a second French Earthship, in Brittany, which was created in 2007 by Daren Howarth and Adrianne Nortje, and documented by the UK television show Grand Designs. 

Earthships can take on many different styles of design and features; currently there are official Earthships in Brighton, England; Fife, Scotland; Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia, and the Czech Republic, as well as the USA, South Africa, and South America.

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