Mike Reynolds – Architect of Garbage

Biotecture by marvins dad
Biotecture by marvins_dad

Can you imagine living in a house built of garbage? Or to have your walls made of old coke cans, wine bottles, or car tires? Not many people would consider buying such a construction, but according to Mike Reynolds, who is often nicknamed “an architect of garbage,” you definitely should.

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Hard Beginnings

Reynolds is an enfant terrible of architecture. He has devoted his whole professional career to researching and designing green housing that is largely made of recycled material. He dealt with the issue of using trash items as a building material in his thesis at the University of Cincinnati, which was published in prominent architecture magazines. Ever since, Reynolds has gone through a series of ups and downs. He was even expelled from the State Architects Board in New Mexico, and he agreed to be stripped of his license in 1990 after going through several lawsuits by clients who didn’t understand the widely stressed experimental nature of his work and complained about things like leaking roofs. As green and sustainable architecture became a hit, he was returned his credentials in 2007, and he continues to design houses all around the world as well as to lobby for wider possibilities for creating experimental sustainable homes and removing legislative hurdles.

Environmental Warrior

Earthship Biotecture Visitor Centre by Jessica Reeder
Earthship Biotecture Visitor
Center by Jessica Reeder

Reynolds invented a brand new term for the kind of architecture he deals with: Earthship Biotecture. He calls himself and his numerous followers biotects. His designs try to get as close as possible to the concept of totally self-sufficient and sustainable buildings, or as he puts it, he believes in a “radically sustainable living.” He claims that most of his work can do very well by using solely renewable energy and integrated water systems, staying off the grid and using basically no public infrastructure. Thus, the art of biotecture provides its owners with an opportunity to create independent communities that could eventually survive without external resources for a considerable amount of time. Reynolds also aims at minimizing utility and design costs to make the homes affordable for everyone.

He brought this to perfection when he decided to fly over to disaster-stricken Sri Lanka to help those in need. He was able to pass his knowledge to people who desperately needed shelter and by a cruel coincidence had tons of garbage everywhere around them. Here, Reynolds and his team was able to create some of the most inspired designs, as they were not kept in check by stricter regulations.

R E A C H  House by Jessica Reeder
R.E.A.C.H. House by Jessica Reeder

Over time, Reynolds became one of the top figures of the environmental movement. The public learned about him through Green Warrior, a documentary about his life, his fight with the binding rules in the US, and his designs. He often criticizes modern architects for being unable to cope with the unbelievable amount of waste that accompanies traditional designs, and he refuses to step down from his radically environmental positions. Despite all the troubles he has been through, if you decide to build a sustainable house that is made of trash one day, he is probably the most qualified and inspired person you should go for.

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