When people say they’re going green, they usually mean sticking a few solar panels on the roof, or maybe installing a wind turbine. For some, going green means having your home and the earth entwined together to create a house that’s part of the landscape itself. With the success of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it is likely that more people will be interested in having their own little Hobbit-holes built into the earth. Here are some of the most interesting eco homes that are underground.
Simon Dale’s Hobbit hole, Wales
Simon Dale built his eco-home from scratch using locally sourced materials to minimise the impact on the local environment. The house took him four months to build and only cost him roughly £3000 (what a bargain!). The house itself uses straw bale insulation in the walls and floor, and the fridge is cooled using air that comes through the foundations. Simon also installed solar panels and uses a nearby spring for water.
Bella Vista Hotel, Italy
If eco-housing is cost efficient and has a low impact on the environment, why stop at just one house? This is what architect Matteo Thun thought when he designed the Bella Vista Hotel in Bozen, Italy. The hotel consists of eleven individual hostels built directly into the hillside, and it utilises the surrounding earth as a roof to regulate the temperature. The houses also make use of a local spring to heat the houses, combined with triple glazed windows to retain heat and minimise energy waste.
Cave land, USA
Curt and Deborah Sleeper found the space for their dream home on Ebay – a cave nestled in the mountains of Festus, Missouri. The combined house and office space uses geothermal energy from the cave itself to heat the house, and the natural airflow of the cave means there’s no need for air conditioning. The house also has access to three groundwater springs to provide water for the family, and the walls are unfinished to make use of the natural cave walls.
Earth houses, Switzerland
Rather than carve away at the landscape in order to build your home, why not instead allow your home to be shaped by the natural contours of the land? This is what Peter Vetsch did when he created the earth houses; a collection of nine eco-homes surrounding an artificial lake. As with the Bella Vista Hotel, the natural earth blanket on top of the houses creates an effective form of insulation, and the organic shape of the exterior works with the landscape to protect the houses from the elements.
Gary Neville’s flower shaped house, England
Footballer Gary Neville built himself a house that meets the highest environmental performance standards in the UK, and is the first zero-carbon house in the north west of England. The house is dug into the ground for minimal impact on the landscape, and it uses a petal design centred around a kitchen hub. Neville has installed a number of eco-friendly additions including a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels and a ground source heat pump. He also wanted to erect a 100ft wind turbine but it was rejected by local residents.
Jamie Gibbs is the resident blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com.