Earthship Brighton uses lots of low impact materials. Low impact means waste, recycled, reclaimed, timber from a sustainably managed source or local materials sourced from within 35 miles. There are other materials used in the project, but they were used because they had a particular property or quality, for example the high performance double glazing.
The basic building block of the earthship walls are used car tyres. The UK throws away over 48 million of these annually and they are now banned from landfill. The technique is simple. Roll the tyre up to the site, line it with cardboard and fill it with earth and ram the earth down with a sledge hammer until the tyre is fully inflated. All tyres are worked on in situ and pounded a course at a time. Together with one metre of rammed earth behind them they create thick walls of thermal mass. Finally the tyres are rendered with mud, adobe or cement.
Another waste material used in the earthship are glass bottles, which are cut up and taped together to form glass bricks. The glass bricks are then laid in courses in cement to form a wall, which are finally rendered over and look like stained glass. The floor in the picture opposite is made from reclaimed granite and marble off-cuts from a local monumental mason in Brighton.