These handmade, eco-friendly homes were green before it was cool

I recently read an EarthFirst post that features several eco-friendly, handmade homes.  Sustainable design always catches my attention, and these dwellings are unique, since they were built in the 60s and 70s, before the modern green movement had gotten underway.


My favorite was this “Hobbit hole,”  a low-impact home dug into a hillside in Wales.  It is built form mud and tree trunks (from the property), lime plaster, straw, and junkyard finds such as windows and wiring.


Eliphante, a very artistic handmade home in Cornville, Arizona, was built over 28 years.  Its driftwood arches and glass mosaics use reclaimed and recycled materials to create free-flowing patterns.


The “Mystery Castle” has an interesting story:

One day in 1927, Boyce Luther Gulley got some bad news: he had tuberculosis, and if he didn’t leave Seattle, it would kill him fast. Gulley walked out of his doctor’s office and disappeared.

Then, fifteen years later, his daughter was contacted by a lawyer in Arizona: she apparently owned a home there. Gulley had spent the remainder of his life creating an 18-room mansion made of stone, adobe, car parts and other natural and recycled materials. Furthermore, when he left Seattle that day, he walked all the way to Arizona. His daughter had asked him shortly before his diagnosis if he would build her a castle, and he did.

These homes aren’t green in the same way that solar cells and LEED buildings are.  Instead, they are sustainable in a classic, harmony-with-nature way.  Not something that could replace modern construction on a large scale, but still appealing.

For more fascinating, sustainable buildings, check out “Earthships: Sustainable, off-the-grid homes.”


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