A couple have shared how they spent years designing and building their own eco-friendly home in Andalucia, Spain – entirely from rubbish.
Laura Davies and Dave Buchanan, both 55, moved over to Andalucia in 2002 and initially bought an old Cortijo, a type of traditional rural dwelling.
But even after installing a load of environmentally friendly features, the couple realised they wanted to immerse themselves fully in the countryside by making their own eco-home.
Laura discovered Earthships online and fell in love. These are a concept that came from American architect Michael Reynolds, and are sustainable homes made entirely from local and waste materials, such as old tyres and drink cans.
Inspired, the couple rushed out to buy a whole set of books on Earthships, realised this was something they could do, and began looking for land.
Inside dream home built from trash, clay and recycled wood
After finding the right plot, they met with the local town planner to get permission to build and submitted their project idea to the council. One year later it was approved and they were ready to start building.
The eco-home, which has a simple dome shape, has walls made entirely from car tyres that Laura and Dave collected from their local garage.
The infill walls are made from old drink cans and bottle bricks, all held together with padobe, a mix of mud and papier-mache.
The roof, which is made of beams from local pine and other wood, collects rainwater, which the couple use for washing, cooking, watering their plants, and for the toilet.
The insulation is natural cork from a forest in the Valencia area of Spain and the front of the building is glass. Acting much like a greenhouse, it creates solar heat and light and keeping them warm during winter without the need for fossil fuel heating. It also allows them to grow food.
Hot water and electricity are generated through solar panels.
The end result is the couple’s glorious dream home, which they’ve named Cuevas de Sol (Caves of Sun).
Despite the construction taking a lot of time and hard work – and even an injury for poor Dave, who nearly lost three fingers in the process – the couple couldn’t be happier with the home they’ve created.
‘The thought of being able to build it ourselves was inspiring, plus the theory behind [Earthships] was genius,’ said Laura.
‘Dave had an accident with the bench saw during construction. He nearly lost three fingers and we had to take five months off for him to recuperate. So really it only took a year and a half!”
‘We adore our home and are still sometimes surprised that we built it ourselves! It works so well, and in winter is especially lovely to live in with temperatures averaging 18C without any need for heating – if it does get a bit chilly I’ll bake a cake so the oven warms the room!
‘It is beautifully light and airy and lets us look straight into nature.’