The Earthship at Stanmer Park has become an icon of Brighton and Hove’s environmental community. Built by Mischa Hewitt of the Low Carbon Trust it was the first of it’s kind in England, and was so radical that at the time of building construction was delayed while the Environment Agency invented a new licence allowing the use of car tyres as a building material.
The term Earthship refers to a building – typically a house – that is completely off grid. It has three main goals: to be built using sustainable and recycled materials; to rely only on natural energy sources; to be affordable to for the average person with no specialised skills to build.
The Stanmer construction is made from recycled car tyres in a rammed earth wall, and sustainably sourced timber. It has adobe walls. A large, south facing glazed area maximises passive solar gain, and a solar hot water system on the roof provides hot water. Electricity comes from solar PV and a wind turbine. All water is harvested from the rain, grey water is treated with planters and black water treated with a reed-bed system, and it is the only building in the country with a licence to turn grey water into drinking water. Composting toilets means all human waste can be dealt with sustainably.
It now acts as a community centre for all those working at Stanmer Organics, a venue for courses and it is available for hire for weddings or conferences. Monthly tours give everyone the opportunity to have a look around, learn about low carbon living and get inspired.