I’m not a Tolkien disciple but I did enjoy Peter Jackson’s "Lord of the Rings" films. One small, Middle Earth-related gripe, though: I could have done with fewer clamorous, protracted monster vs. good guy showdowns and more Better Homes & Gardens-esque tours of the Shire. Those charming, carved-into-the-hillside "Hobbit-holes" with the tiny round windows get my vote for best eco-friendly fantasy dwelling, hands down. Ewok treehouses come in at a close second.
The outside of Simon Dale's woodland home. (Photo: www.SimonDale.net [CC BY-NC-SA 3.0])
The home was built by Dale himself (along with family and friends) with minimal tools from stone, mud, reclaimed wood, and lime plaster. Green features include solar paneling, a composting toilet, rooftop rainwater collection, and natural insulation. Water comes from a nearby spring and skylights provide ample natural lighting.
The inside of this warm abode. (Photo: www.SimonDale.net [CC BY-NC-SA 3.0])
I recommend checking out Dale’s website where you can read in detail about his (somewhat heavy-handed) approach to a permaculture-based existence. You can also take a gander at other Hobbit-esque homes.
Here’s a taste of what Dale has to say:
This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology. These sort of low cost, natural buildings have a place not only in their own sustainability, but also in their potential to provide affordable housing which allows people access to land and the opportunity to lead more simple, sustainable lives. For example this house was made to house our family whilst we worked in the woodland surrounding the house doing ecological woodland management and setting up a forest garden, things that would have been impossible had we had to pay a regular rent or mortgage.
Funny enough, throughout the entire site I can't find one mention of "Hobbit," "Tolkein," or "the Shire" amidst all the talk of permaculture, sustainability, energy consumption, and self-built homes. It's — the fact that Dale is influenced by real world issues of sustainability and not home designs of Middle Earth — pretty refreshing and I bit unexpected, I gotta say.