building on Cape Codresidential, commercial, religiouslooks
like this one, or some modified version of it. There
are tens of thousands of them, and they are very popular.
They show us, at a glance, just how far the human animal
has come in its 10,000 year quest for an appropriate
means of shelter. To build in that way requires that
the native New England forest be stripped away and replaced,
after construction is complete, by a toxic green lawn
and plants native to some other region.
on the image below to read Mac's comments in his own
handwriting and to see more illustration detail.)
"But now another type of building is emerging:
one that actually heals the scars of its own construction.
It conserves rainwaterand fueland it provides
a habitat for creatures other than the human one. Maybe
it will catch on, maybe it won't. We'll see." Malcolm
of Malcolm Wells' Architectural Designs
on the images for an enlarged view.
"My wife, Karen,
and I own a small gallery here on Cape Cod. In it, she
produces and sells her art, and I run a one-man architectural
office. The building is covered with a deep
layer of earth in which native plants of all kinds are
surprisingly, we call the building the Underground
A painted rendition of the
Underground Art Gallery,
before it was built
Alliance Cultural Center
mission of the Terran
Alliance is to enhance community locally,
regionally, globally to amplify learning and
a sharing of traditionsand values linking people of
all races and all lands.
Hill Multi-purpose Building
At Raven Rocks, Locust
Hill is a multi-purpose underground building.
Designed to house six adults, and include two greenhouses,
space for conferences, a library and small museum, a
business office for Raven Rocks Concrete, wood-working
and auto repair shops in the wings, a buried cold room,
and a chiropractic treatment room.
Building and design notes:
- Clivus Multrum composting toilets make fertilizer
of solid wastes.
- Winter heat is supplied through south-facing window
- The structure's mass stores nearly 1,000,000 Btu's
of energy while permitting the temperature of the building
to rise only one degree.
- Wings at each end of the building use a passive thermosiphoning
- The wings, while fulfilling part of the retaining
wall requirements for this earth-covered structure,
will house a one-car auto repair shop at one end, a
small woodworking shop at the other.
- A structure buried adjacent to the building, withdirect
access underground to the kitchen, employ passive annual
cold storage via air tubes thatl draw cold winter air
down into this space by natural convection.
- Two arrays of solar panels convert sunshine to electricity.
House in Ohio
two-story, passive solar heated buiding is home to Mary
and Rich Sidwell, and is the other underground building
at at Raven
Rocks. Building began in 1987.
This design was first published in Underground
Buildings, and now appears on the cover of that
book's republication as The Earth-Sheltered House:
An Architect's Sketchbook (Chelsea Green Publishing
Building and design notes:
- Heat is provided by passive solar means, by sunlight
passing through the greenhouse glass, and being stored
in the concrete structure. A small super-efficient wood
stove, built around a catalytic combustor to slash pollution,
will provide what little back-up heat the Sidwell house
The Duraco frames on the south-facing windows combine
exceptionally insulative vinyl frames with triple pane
glazing that can be 'popped out' easily and quickly.
- Clivus Multrum composting toilets are employed to
reduce water usage by 40%.
- The second floor and roof are made of economical pre-cast
concrete planks, called Flexicore, and offer exceptional
Heated gray water from sinks and bathrooms is filtered
through the planting beds in the greenhouse, which eliminates
the need for septic tanks (along with the composting
toilets), and provides added warmth, moisture, and fertilization
for plant roots.
is an idea Mac has for converting flimsy gas stations
to functional greenspaces:
Hill, NJ Architectural Office
sunny underground office was built adjacent to a 6-lane
highway in N.J.
is an idea Mac has for revitalizing urban developments
with earth-sheltered housing:
developed this idea to rate the environmental-friendliness
of a parcel of land or a building. This scale can help
guide in your design process. Click on the scale at
right and it will open a larger version which you can
Please distribute the content contained in this web site.
When you do, please give full credit to this web site address or
to Malcolm Wells.
Copyright © 2002 Wendy M. Mathias
Almost all images, sketches, and "handwritten" text are
copyright Malcolm Wells.
Questions about this web site? Write the webmaster.