By Ashley Colby of Rizomafieldschool.com
Uruguay’s first totally sustainable hotel is under way in the Uruguayan UNESCO heritage town Colonia del Sacramento and will be welcoming its first guests before the end of 2019.
The Caliu Earthship Hotel is an Earthship—the invention of the architect Michael Reynolds who is based in New Mexico USA. Buildings made this way are constructed to be completely off-grid by meeting all human needs within the design of the building. Some of these needs include: heating/cooling, electricity, sewage treatment, water harvesting and food production. Reynolds has developed his own particular construction method that uses natural and recycled materials alongside conventional building material to meet these needs.
Latin America’s first totally sustainable school in Uruguay an Earthship
Michael Reynolds and his team have been in Uruguay before to build Latin America’s first sustainable public school in the coastal village of Jaureguiberry back in 2016.
One of Earthship’s most well-known methods is using recycled tyres for foundation and walls. Each tyre is filled with earth, which is rammed by hand to compact it. This creates a very dense wall with high thermal mass, which helps to heat in winter and cool in summer. Another unique part of this construction is using aluminum cans and glass bottles as bricks to build walls.
For further heating, Earthships are outfitted with a greenhouse facing toward the sun that can both grow food and help heat the buildings in cooler months. Many of those who have been within one of these unique buildings describe the wonderful sensation of living amongst tropical plants in the greenhouse year-round. Some Earthship greenhouses even have fishponds.
Michael Reynolds developed Earthship as a result of trial and error over the course of 40 years. Back in 1972, he experimented with his now infamous beer-can home. After graduating with an architecture degree, Reynolds was concerned with the amount of trash mounting in the world. He wanted to reinvent a kind of architecture that both helps to recycle trash and creative beautiful, functional spaces.
Reynolds and his team have been all around the world building Earthships for both private clients and public entities. The construction team typically comes for one month and hosts an academy that draws students from around the world who want to learn this method of building.
Volunteers from all over the world in Colonia
The entire crew and student group, over 80 people, were in Colonia del Sacramento for the month of February 2019. Students came from as far as Indonesia to camp near Caliu Hotel while taking classes in the morning and constructing the hotel during the day.
The owners of the hotel are two Argentineans who have relocated to Uruguay from Cordoba. Jessica is a trained architect, and Mauro has worked in the hotel and hospitality industry.
Photo: Caliu Earthship Hotel