modern and sustainable house

Adobe Solar Castle in New Mexico

First Floor Plan

First Floor Plan

How do we fight this cold spell we’re stuck in? Let’s travel to a place where it’s hot and sunny. This traditional Pueblo-style indian home is made of adobe (sun-dried mud mixed with straw). It was created in New Mexico, US by one David Buxton in 2008. It soon caught the media attention, yet as far as the hottest and driest parts of America are concerned, adobe buildings are nothing unique.

Adobe is a traditional Southwestern building material, first used by the indian tribes. They knew that adobe buildings could last for centuries if properly cared for. Mr Buxton’s eco-friendly castle can be run entirely on green energy. There are solar panels and a wind generator to provide the house with electricity, while a grey water recycling system provides water for the desert garden adjacent to the castle.

Castle Made of Mud

Castle Made of Mud

Set on 6.6 acres of desert overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge, this green castle offers amazing views. Interiors are gorgeous – the home features a mix of traditional details and ultra modern art, from the handmade, tin cabinets in the kitchen to the custom tile artwork in the corridors. Rounded exteriors with square windows and flat roofs with parapets is what characterize these traditional homes. Apparently, the home is now for sale at $615,000.

So, how much potential is there for eco-friendly adobe homes. New Mexico is an adobe hotspot. Homes like these are still built in South America and some of the Asian-side ex-Soviet countries. If you live in a hot climate, the eco-friendly pueblo-style home is absolutely amazing. It provides a substantial thermal mass, keeping you cool and comfortable. The thick walls provide great insulation against the elements… as long as the elements are not wet and drippy… yes, rain. Adobe buildings don’t like rain, however, some of the oldest adobe homes (still standing) are over 1000 years old.

Ground Floor Plan

Ground Floor Plan

It would be an utter madness to build an adobe home in the UK, however, there is something in the pueblo-style that you can take home. They are usually made of lots of mud or clay (or cow’s poo in the worst case) and some straw, to provide a joining material. What you can do, theoretically, is to add some clay to lots of straw and then render it with lime render to protect it from the rain. Why did I say theoretically? Because if you cannot dry the clay in the sun properly, your straw is likely to rot. No, an adobe home is not a great idea for the UK but it is a great example of how people are building eco-friendly houses in the hotter parts of the world.

Another potential con of a pueblo is that the flat roof can be susceptible to leakage. Older pueblo homes built with plaster rather than drywall (i.e. just stacking the dried clay/straw brick and rendering it with clay) are less prone to rotting. Visit Mr Buxton’s homepage for more details. It is an amazing house he’s built. The only slight criticism that I have is that the layout could be more efficient. Considering the square footage of the adobe castle, it should’ve been possible to have more rooms and a better flow.

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2 Responses to “Adobe Solar Castle in New Mexico”

  1. Found this blog post through Google alerts for our company Adobe Solar. I love seeing the different uses of solar power in residential applications, and this house is really cool. Using solar and wind power together is the best of the both worlds.

    Being from Denver (with a similar climate to NM) we are true believers in solar power. Our hope is that the government continues to support alternative energy initiatives.

    Great post,we’ll subscribe to RSS and check back often!

  2. Always good to see solar adobe homes. I built one for myself 25 years ago and I’m still living in it here in New Mexico. Congratulations to Mr. Buxton on the sale of his castle.