Earthships combine African and Native Indigenous architectural influences with high tech and green methods of conservation using tires and refuse, like cans and bottles.The usage of tires in foundation building is called Rammed Earth Construction and the other is Tire Bale Construction. More than just a “tire house,” a dwelling built with this method can become a self-sufficient solar home, called an “earthship” by Michael Reynolds the man who pioneered the design and construction of these highly integrated structures.
According to Michael Reynolds; “The typical earthship is heavily bermed on three sides to protect the house from the weather, with only the south-facing side exposed and encased in glass. Inside, the house is alive with growing beds along the front, which typically include some form of greywater treatment system. In a sense, an earthship functions much like the self-sufficient biosphere home”Michael Reynolds has penned 3 volumes called Earthships.”Based on the accumulated wisdom of dozens of new Earthship projects from around the world.”
A beautiful, harmonious marriage of architecture and nature or “biotecture” earthship architects take influence from the traditional mashrabiya – a type of window common in north African countries, fronted by a latticed screen. Earthship design highlights a mix of visual flare, practical understanding, and profound humanitarianism.The circle is omnipresent in nature,and unlike European design subsaharan African and Earthship design utilizes this element throughout the structure.
Over the last century, researchers on human perception have tried to explain our innate propensity for circular and curvy shapes. In a 1921 study conducted by the Swedish psychologist Helge Lundholm, subjects were asked to draw lines representing a set of emotional adjectives. While angular lines were used to depict adjectives like hard, harsh and cruel, curved lines were the popular choice for adjectives like gentle, quiet and mild.Thus reflecting the builders intrinsic desire to unite with nature.Sharp-cornered objects caused much greater amygdala activation than rounded objects.
A well-studied region in the temporal lobe of the brain, the amygdala’s primary function is to process stimuli that induce fear, anxiety, and aggressiveness and to deal with the resulting emotional reactions. In other words, angular shapes tend to trigger fear and therefore aversion and dislike.For much of the period from the 15th century till now, during which Europeans and Africans have been connected through trade, empire and migration, both forced and voluntary, Europe has viewed the people of Africa through the distorting veil of racism and racial theory while simultaneously stealing African invention, style art and thought and rebranding them as their own invention.
This goes for music and architectural influence as well. Most people don’t even know castles and Europes greatest cathedrals were either built by Africans or created/drawn from the study of their structures.Bio mimicry is awell known example of themes in African traditional architecture.The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, typifies the best of green architecture and ecologically sensitive adaptation. The country’s largest office and shopping complex is an architectural marvel in its use of biomimicry principles.
The mid-rise building, designed by architect Mick Pearce in collaboration with Arup engineers, has no conventional air-conditioning or heating, yet stays regulated year round with dramatically less energy consumption using design methods inspired by indigenous Zimbabwean masonry and the self-cooling mounds of African termites!
Africa has never laid claim to a homogenous indigenous style of architecture the land like its peoples are too vast. from the Alhambra to the great Pyramids to the Mosque of Djenne’ ,Basilica of Our Lady Of Peace ,the Library of Alexandria or Sudano-Sahelian architecture of the ancient Songhai Empire. It would take volumes to encompass the breadth of historic African architecture from the walls of Jericho to the Halls of Solomon. Even the American front porch is an African invention!