Econ-friendly Home Design Inspired By J.R.R. Tolkien
I have always been interested in bio-friendly housing, specifically designs that approach zero-environmental impact.
After seeing The Fellowship of the Ring, you have probably fantasized about living in a Hobbit Hole and lazing about in the shade. I know I have. The night I walked out of the theater on opening night, my OCD kicked in and I designed a Hobbit Hole.
That is when I started expressing my inner architect and wondering of easy, bio-friendly ways to build a Hobbit Hole. This is what I have come up with.
The largest expenses in building a home (not counting the flat screen tv and indoor lap pool) typically are the walls, exterior and roofing system. Obviously, the roof and exterior are done away with for Hobbit Holes. However you have some staggering stress and loading issues with underground housing. The weight of the soil and flora growing on it can produce tremendous loads on a structure. It is even worse when it rains.
Once you start doing the math for wooden structures, the cost quickly skyrockets. On top of high costs to support such loading, you have yet to deal with the issue of water seepage, insect vulnerabilities (termites) and wood rot.
That leaves us the two building materials. Steel and concrete. With the circular nature of Hobbit Holes, one could use large steel pipe, but no source exists that makes low cost steel structures that I could find. But concrete… yes… concrete is the ticket.
All around the world, companies manufacture pre-formed concrete pipe… LARGE concrete pipe. Concrete pipe has several advantages for making Hobbit Holes. They come with an assortment of flanges, protrusions and options that allows for the creation of windows, skylights, doors, garages, fireplaces and chimneys.
As one can see, using such materials for the construction of a Hobbit Hole would make for a comfy home. Or at least a conversation piece.
Although the elliptical may have some aesthetic advantages, the use of round concrete pipe may be the best choice. The main reason is that you will need to have room to place plumbing, ventilation, electrical and communication hardware though out the Hole.
The best solution for this is the area under your flooring. The best example of this type of construction is in naval architecture with sailboats. Plan all of your plumbing, ventilation and wiring, then figure out how much space you will need, vertically. Maybe the use of multiple styles, circular for halls and elliptical for rooms, is the best idea. The halls would need the most space for plumbing, etc as all rooms connect to it. That is the design philosophy I have used for Bag End 2.
The proper name for this type of home is “earth-sheltered home.”
There are some other similar designs and building strategies for constructing homes of this type.
“Rammed Earth” homes are homes that are built using spare tires filled with packed dirt. The upside is that are recycling old tires, glass bottles and other uncommon materials to build a house and low cost for heating and cooling. The down side is the incredible labor involved with packing thousands of tires with dirt. Also, there is some concern with rammed earth homes in areas frequented by earthquakes.
“Earth Ship” is another type of house. These may include rammed earth construction, but the main goal is off-grid living. Typically, these homes are found the the American West and are of an adobe design.