Construction of the earthships

aardehuizen olstThe aardehuizen in Olst were inspired by Earthships of architect Michael Reynolds. The first Earthships date back to the ‘70s and have been tested thoroughly by use. Discarded materials and local building materials determine the buildings. An earthship is designed for off-grid living.

Architect Michel Post of Orio Architecten has modified the design to meet Dutch conditions. (rains, temperature through the year and soil).

12 of the buildings have tire walls - filled with rammed earth - supporting the roof. The other 11 buildings are built with straw walls with a wood frame supporting the roof. The roofs are slanted 9º to catch a maximum of sun in winter and very little sun in summer.

glasgevel aardehuizenWarmth

All buildings have a characteristic south-facing glass façade. Thermal mass is created by the tire walls and floors. Earthships in the Netherlands need to be optimally isolated. The Energy Performance Coefficientis (EPC) is zero to almost zero (with small variations among the houses, depending on materials uses). An earthship needs less extra heating than a conventional building. Extra heat is created by mass heaters, economic wooden stoves or heatpumps.

Most buildings use natural ventilation through lattices at the front and roof-windows at the back of the buildings.


In Olst, groundwater is pumped and filtered to drinking water that meets safety regulations. We test the quality regularly.
Waste water filtered by a reed filter is released into surface waters.

Every households uses some sort of composting toilet system. This preserves thousands of liters of drinking water on a yearly basis. The compost keeps precious minerals at the local area and is used at the terrains.
The community building is connected to the regular sewage system.



All PV-panels on the 23 houses and the community building supply ample electricity for all needs (est. yearly yield: 63.300 kWh). All buildings are connected to the powergrid, using it as a battery; on sunny days there is a surplus, on cloudy days we use the power-grid when needed. We are currently investigating possibilities to distribute the electricity surplus among ourselves.

The installations like PV-panels, hot water systems and reed bed filter were a costly investment. However, owners are faced with lower monthly fixed costs and this compensates for these investments.

groen aanzichtGreen

The slopes at the north side of aardehuizen, the green infrastructure and varied plants will make a gradual zone between village houses and fields. The green roofs have been sown with flowers and grasses, and seeds from the surroundings will gather as well. Edible plants will further add vitality to the area. By using half paved roads and natural paths we present an alternative to conventional hard material roads and contribute to water management. The modest street lights help protect the ecological value of darkness.   

bandenstampenLeren van duurzaam bouwen

Building by ourselves was a conscious and positive choice. To this extent, we were helped by building coordinators who supervised quality since the beginning of building in 2011. As we acquired skills and experience we specialised in teams by 2013.

More than one thousand Dutch and international volunteers have come to learn (aspects of) building earthships. They often contributed greatly with their own skills.