The Hobbit House Revisited, in Honor of the Upcoming Film

After watching the trailer for The Hobbit, don’t you find yourself longing to live (or at least vacation) in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, maybe in the Shire, in a cozy house built under a hill?

What, you dont? Well, even if you’ve never dreamed of hanging out with elves and dragons, you have to appreciate this “Low Impact Woodland Home” (aka Hobbit house).

You’re not looking at a movie set. Simon Dale built this eco-friendly house into a hillside in Wales–all for less than $5,000. Just three zeros–that’s not a typo.

But don’t let its low cost fool you: the home is packed with green features, including locally sourced wood, a composting toilet, a turf roof, and solar panels for energy. Like an earthship, the Hobbit-house is designed with nature in mind. The owners explain:

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature….Building from natural materials does away with producers’ profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Hobbit house interiorThis sustainable approach might not be too far from Tolkien’s vision of the Hobbit’s Shire. While not exactly an environmentalist, the famous author was distrustful of industrialism (he despised automobiles in particular). Tolkien’s Hobbits live in a peaceful, agrarian community, in harmony with nature. Through them, industrialization is presented as a nightmare.

As I wrote in 2009,

The villains of Middle-Earth fell ancient trees and burn them to fuel forges, which are used to build machines and weapons of war.  Orcs ravage the forest indiscriminately, and Sauron, the supreme enemy, is infamous for laying waste to once-beautiful lands.  In TLotR, these actions are portrayed as purely evil, yet they are not so different from the exploitation of nature by today’s industries.

The Hobbit House, under construction

In short, Tolkien would probably approve of the Hobbit house’s philosophy. It’s enlightening to see that sustainable architecture doesn’t require expensive technology or a LEED plaque.

Mr. Dale insists that this style of home is relatively easy to build. He even provides Hobbit house plans and construction techniques on his site, in case you’d like to give it a try.

And why not? If you’ve ever wanted to create your own eco-friendly home, The Hobbit’s new pop culture status should give you a great excuse.

Photos: Simon Dale

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