They may look a bit dated at first, or at least more whimsical than required for functional living. Still, these earth houses have more to offer than custom curves and a unique aesthetic – including a set of design philosophies, strategies and tactics that are far from just superficial nods to sustainable trends. The designs take everything into account from fire and earthquake protection to integral insulation-efficient arches and buffer rooms for energy-free temperature control.
While not every hobbit house-like Erdhaus is actually built under the existing ground on a site, they are all tied to their earthen surroundings by sloping sheaths of greenery. Grass-covered walls curve up and continue as green roofs along the tops of each structure. The resulting contiguous thermal mass of this all-in-one exterior wall-and-roof system helps to conserve heating and cooling power.
Some of these are built as continuous strip communities, a kind of eco-suburb that looks from a distance like a simple set of rolling hills. This results in reduced material and construction costs as well as additional power savings due to shared party walls.
From an energy generation standpoint, all of the standard sustainable solutions are also available: geothermal, water, solar and wind. Moreover, there is an underlying visual theory that informs these shapes as much as these functional requirements – they are intended to mimic the naturally abstract and seemingly random curves of their natural surroundings. While not everyone wants to live in something so exotic-looking it is at least noteworthy that their design philosophy carries all the way from construction methods to the aesthetic appearance of the final product.
“Personal and social change in our global community requires flexible, multi- functionally adapted solutions of our built environment. Unfortunately, most contemporary buildings are the result of conventional thinking in designs of past days. Architecture should not dictate nature, it should cooperate with it. Sustainable architecture is preferrably integrated into the natural environment and should be in a symbiotic relationship with it. Earth-covered architecture benefits from the natural balance of temperatures. It’s cooler in sommer and warmer in winter.”
“High contamination facilities can be built with earth covered architecture to reduce impact to nature. Good working/living environment even in underprivileged locations can be created. The curvy forms of the earth-houses are an ideal synthesis between form and function. The emotional archaic form is an hommage to the natural environment. Planning should be centered around mankind, making the house his 3rd skin in context with nature.”