Architecture has a significant purpose in changing our lives and the planet, and it must create a positive impact on both. The major ongoing problems include global warming, climate change, and pollution of resources and it can be addressed if we can change the way we live and build. A self-sufficient and sustainable architecture could do justice for the same and this thought has to come from every single inhabitant of Earth. Michael Reynold is an architect who claims architecture today is not for people. He invented his profession Biotecture which aims to bring people and the planet together by his Earthship Models.

Biotecture – The New Architecture

Michael worked as an architect in his initial days and then moved to what he calls Biotecture after his concerns regarding the trash and lack of affordable housing grew bigger. Michael defined Biotecture as a profession that has to be molded and created for people and that is how architecture needs to shape today and tomorrow. His prototype housing model, the Earthship, addresses six major needs of people that are needed for survival. Those six issues are – comfortable shelter, water, electricity, treating sewage, handling garbage, and producing food all on their own. These Earthships are well-known for using tires, glass bottle bricks, and cans as their building blocks and this is a way to deal with one of the issues, garbage. He describes the need to develop Earthships is to create a home for people that are not ruining the essence of Earth and these homes should be similar to how trees blend with Nature. They’re trying to get the sustenance of people to be an asset to the planet and not a detriment. This Earthship movement begun by Michael aims to cause people to solve those six issues in their habitat.

Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships - Sheet1

Biotecture Vs Architecture

Michael believes that the architecture practiced today is not introducing fundamental change or going to the root or source of issues that the planet is facing. Global warming is happening at a faster rate than it was a decade ago and architecture is not capable of resolving this issue. On the other hand, Biotecture is solely settling it irrespective of the design following any tradition, culture, or norms. Biotecture is for people and the planet in close integration with the structure. Michael has built Earthships in several forms and one of them is a pyramid. He asserts that form or design isn’t prioritized but the phenomena of dealing with those six issues are the core principle behind Earthships. Form, in his words, is an odd, fanciful, or capricious idea which is Architecture today. Architects make sure their designs are aesthetically pleasing but they fail to deal with the safety of the planet. The pyramid that he mentioned was built to encounter the phenomena that are the issues of the planet and not because it looked good.

Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships - Sheet2
Pyramid Biotecture_©

Earthships in the Future

Michael’s vision on Earthships is based on the gradual increase in people’s awareness about the challenges the planet is facing and the encouragement received for the Earthship movement. The inherent capacity of Earthships to develop into a new way of living on Earth and the six points being considered as utilities instead of issues can create a new revolution. He debates that the building codes have been a suffocative situation for Earthship. So, the plan is to make the Earthship concept work and let the Earthships be compatible with the norms and regulations so this could be developed in a metropolitan area. He calls it Radical sustainability because the time is running out and the execution need not convince people but let them see. Biotecture can have a bright future if we keep educating people in millions and hoping to reach billions.

Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships - Sheet3
Eve Interior Biotecture_©

Nightly Rentals – AirBnB

Renting of Earthships was begun as a way to fund themselves in the process of getting Earthships renowned. Although these buildings were designed and executed, people were curious but didn’t want to spend a penny to buy them. It gave a chance for Michael to rent them for a night and let people experience how they dealt with those six issues in their stay. This grew into setting up homestay rentals for vacation or the familiar AirBnB setup. Hence these buildings became a demonstration of Biotecture Earthship as a can-be home for the future. It changed Michael’s mind to rather rent them out than sell them to serve a big goal and an economic way of supporting the revolution.

Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships - Sheet4
Earthship Air BnB_©

Earthship Academy

There are academy sessions held as a 4-weeks long program offering training and education on Earthship Biotecture design principles, construction methods, and philosophy. It happens several times a year in Taos. Academy classes, labs, tours, and hands-on construction techniques are led by top Earthship builders, electricians, plumbers, and plant specialists. The Academy also has a partnership with Western Colorado University’s two-year master’s in environmental management graduate degree. There are also scholarships available for a few selective applicants. For more information on the same, visit their online link.

Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships - Sheet5
Biotecture: Michael Reynold’s concept of earth ships

Biotecture can become a revolution in the future provided the principles expand globally since it’s the need of the hour. As architects, we could resolve the same six issues in our designs in a different format and develop a new Earthship model. The objective is simple – people and the planet should go together.


Rohini M is an Assistant Architect in Atkins, Bangalore. She is also certified LEED Green Associate and COA registered Architect. Moreover, she also contributes articles to Building Design Journal in Atkins UK. She is a go-to person for hand made cards for any event or wall arts in the firm.

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