Finding Luxury on the Scrap Heap
updated 03/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
The hero of Gunsmoke and Mc Cloud has taken to the limit the eco gospel of Reuse, Recycle, Reduce. His architect, maverick MICHAEL REYNOLDS, 44, who earlier built some 50 self-sufficient "Earth Ships" near Taos, N.Mex., says the very durability that causes automobile tires to be an ecological disaster (247 million dumped in 1988) makes them ideal building blocks. In Weaver's pad, 3,000 old tires are packed with dirt, surrounded by more than 200,000 aluminum cans and covered with adobe. The three-foot-thick walls act as a thermal battery. "Dense mass stores temperature," Reynolds explains. "The more dense the mass is, the more temperature it stores." After a year of warming, the walls will hold a constant temperature of about 68°F winter and summer. A south-facing wall of glass (overlooking snowcapped peaks) brings the three-level house up to 70°F. Photovoltaic cells provide juice for lights. In the living room stand 300 square feet of planters for growing vegetables and fruit, irrigated by a system that filters runoff from five baths and a laundry. Says Weaver: "A good planet is hard to find. I'd like to leave it in good shape."