Louisiana’s Experimental Research Design and Build


An image taken at or near the Brighton Earthship located near Stanmer Park, Brighton, East Sussex. Photo by Dominic Alves

Hello, my name is Jacalyn Dixon (civil, structural, architectural designer, and now teacher); my vison is to design and build an earthship in Louisiana. This type of sustainable architecture is needed now more than ever. Stories of families struggling to keep a roof over head, and worries associated with meeting monthly revolving bills must be addressed.

My design will follow Earthship Biotecture ecofriendly principles which includes:

1. Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling

2. Electricity generated by Solar, Wind & Water Turbines

3. Contained Sewage Treatment

4. Building with Natural & Recycled Materials

5. Harvesting Rainwater

6. Food Production grown in north facing passive solar greenhouse

Architect Michael Reynolds has been a major pioneer of earthship builds for over 40 years. He has helped developed The Greater World Earthship Community, located in New Mexico.

Reynold’s building school charges approximately $225.00 per square foot (psf) and may take two years to construct a residential earthship. Last year I emailed Reynolds website regarding my interest in building an earthship; their response was, “we have no plans to build in Louisiana.” This response left me feeling a little disheartened, but after a two-year (2018-2019) battle with cancer, I decided to pioneer forward.


Traditionally, earthship walls are constructed of recycled tires. Tires are then filled with dirt, afterwards that dirt is compacted inside the tire through a ponding technique, once the tire expands it can then be stacked in a stagger pattern creating a desired wall height. Recycled cans and bottles are also used as fillers in wall construction.


I would like the earthships facade to be more modern and utilize more passive solar. This is an opportunity to train the younger generation how to build more sustainable buildings for the future. The current pandemic crisis should help us see sustainable design such as this is needed now. We must implement change before a worse crisis challenges or disrupts our current grid system.

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