An entire village of earthships sounds like a dream, but it nearly became reality in a small village in the eastern part of The Netherlands called Olst. Twelve of the 24 buildings have tyre walls, filled with rammed earth, supporting the roof. The other 12 buildings are built with a wood frame supporting the roof and straw bale walls.
When I heard about the project I was of course curious to see what it looked like and, being aware of the many challenges earthship projects face, was interested to find out how they did it.
During a visit to The Netherlands I had the opportunity to visit and speak with two of the founders.
The high ambitions of the project are apparent from the mission statement, which I’ve included below. It demonstrates a strong focus on sustainability and the triple bottom line approach: economic, social and ecological.
As Vereniging Aardehuis Oost Nederland (Association Earthship East Netherlands), it is our intention to build, work and live in our homes and in our lives, in harmony with nature, in constructive relationships with one another and as a source of inspiration to the world around us. This goal is to be realised through the construction of an ecological housing project of self-sufficient earth houses whereby all aspects of sustainability are taken into consideration and balanced with each forming a harmonious whole.
Profit – Economical
- The project has an educational objective to promote sustainable lifestyle choices in general, and CO2-neutral building and housing in particular.
- The project has small scale employment and housing combined. This employment is largely created through the creation of educational and recreational projects.
People – Social ‘Community Living’ where:
- Solidarity is an underlining guiding principle – reflected in the pursuit of environmentally friendly building and living, accessible to all budgets.
- Communal property is shared and cared for collectively.
- Mutual respect, open communication and shared responsibility, balanced with individual freedom.
Planet – Ecological
- The project makes optimal use of existing local waste materials, resource commodities and natural processes.
- Households and communal systems are fully self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and sanitation requirements.
- Reducing the carbon footprint of residents to a fraction of the Dutch average.
The Owner Builder Magazine published my story which you can read here.