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Earthbag/Papercrete Home










(This house reported 43 resource efficient features.
Percentages above indicate the distribution of features and total 100%)


  • To build a personal residence and home office complex from a compact and efficient design.
  • To heat the home predominantly with passive solar.
  • To minimize the use of structural lumber.
  • To build a comfortable, low maintenance, long lasting, inexpensive home that used recycled materials where appropriate, and with renewable technologies and techniques that could be duplicated by unskilled labor.
  • To include an attached solar greenhouse and provide natural light in all rooms.
  • To berm into a south-facing hill for thermal efficiency and minimal site disturbance.
  • To provide a breathable building envelope.
Because of the elliptical shape, the main dome required a rigid pole framework to help support the second story


  • Location: Crestone, Colorado
  • Climate Zone: Cold
  • Type of Project: New Construction
  • Home Completed: 2000
  • Setting: rural
  • Energy Source: - solar - propane - grid electric
  • Layout: Single-Family; 1 bedroom; Detached garage
  • Lot Size: 2 acre
  • Square Footage: 1250
  • Sales Market: Middle-income
  • Cost/Square Foot: $ 16.00


Kelly Hart
Hartworks, Inc.
- Builder - Designer - Homeowner

Phone: (719) 256-4278



Building with earthbags (sometimes called sandbags) is both old and new. Earthbags are excellent for homes because the walls are massive and substantial, they resist all kinds of severe weather, and they can be erected simply and quickly with readily available components. Burlap bags were traditionally used for this purpose, and they work fine until they eventually rot. Newer polypropylene bags have superior strength and durability, as long as they are kept away from too much sunlight. For permanent housing the bags should be covered with some kind of plaster for protection. This one uses papercrete.

There has been a resurgence of interest in earthbag building since architect Nadir Khalili, of the Cal-Earth Institute, began experimenting with bags of adobe soil as building blocks for creating domes, vaults and arches. Khalili was familiar with Middle Eastern architecture and the use of adobe bricks in building these forms, so it was natural for him to imagine building in this way. The Cal-Earth Institute has been training people with his particular techniques, and now the whole field has expanded considerably with further experimentation by his students and others.

Visit http://www.greenhomebuilding.com and specifically go to the earthbag or papercrete pages for more information about this house.

This is the southern face of the house. The section of roof between the domes is covered with metal roofing and supports eight photovoltaic panels.

This shows the main entrance onto a landing, with the option of going up to the loft or down to the main level

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