Please excuse the third NYC-centric post in a row, but this is a most interesting development:

A fellow named Ken Ruck has proposed plans to build an Earthship home designed by Earthship Biotecture’s “Garbage Warrior” himself, Michael Reynolds, on a 25-foot vacant lot on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

To be clear, "radically sustainable," completely self-sufficient Earthship homes have “landed” all over the place in recent years, not just in the Southwest where they were conceived back in the 1970s.

Currently, and not too surprisingly, there’s an Earthship craze sweeping Europe, and as I reported back in July, Reynolds — whom I like to call the Oscar the Grouch of Architecture — traveled to Haiti to construct one of his trademark earthquake-resistant dwellings built from dirt-filled salvaged tires (the basic building blocks of an Earthship), recycled plastic bottles, and various waste items and natural materials. And a year before Reynolds first traveled to Haiti, I blogged about the Sunshine State’s first passive solar Earthship home.

But an off-the-grid garbage house built in the middle of the Big Apple? Manhattan strikes me as being pretty much the last place I’d expect to see an Earthship, but it might just happen (Community Board 3’s land use committee and the co-owner of the lot were apparently not opposed to Ruck’s vision) making it the first Earthship constructed in an urban setting.

Ruck’s urban Earthship at long-vacant 61 Pitt Street between Delancey and Rivington streets would be a total of six stories, consisting of a two-story residence topped by a four-story steel structure that would house renewable energy systems (solar and wind power) and a rainwater collection/treatment system. Given that this is the LES, the Earthship would be surrounded by the neighborhood’s not-very-Earthship-y prevailing housing stock: tenement buildings.

According to the Lo-Down blog, Ruck, a LES resident for 16 years, would open up his home for educational tours in an effort to give back to the community and “raise awareness and show that you can build without electricity, without putting waste water on the street.” It’s unclear if the home will be built with traditional Earthship materials like the aforementioned salvaged tires or refuse that’s slightly more indigenous to Manhattan (the only things I can think of are cigarette butts and Duane Reade shopping bags, but those don’t exactly boast the insulating qualities of rammed-earth tires).

Although Ruck has the support of the local community board, I’m guessing securing the appropriate permits from the Department of Buildings may prove to be a more formidable challenge. As Curbed puts it: "that [securing permits] might take a while because the DOB doesn't normally deal with advanced alien spacecrafts fueled by the sun. May the Earthship force be with Ruck as he moves ahead with his plans. 

Via [The Lo-Down] via [Curbed NY]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Will an Earthship land in Manhattan?
A resident of Manhattan's Lower East Side proposes to build an Earthship, an off-the-grid home built largely from garbage. Will the Department of Buildings clea