Blog Post 4: Upcycle Design Report

Scope and Purpose:

The goal of this project was to identify and prototype an upcycled aesthetic. I chose to create a model of an Earthship home, known for their upcycled architecture and sustainable design.


Earthship homes are a style of sustainable, off the grid architecture that began in New Mexico the late 20th century. These homes are designed as a passive solar shelter. The use of upcycled materials and commonly desert location define the architecture aesthetic. Earthship homes resemble Santa Fe style homes with the common use of dried clay bricks for construction. Frequently used recycled materials include tires, cans, and bottles. Not only is the Earthship home constructed out of sustainable, upcycled materials, but requires a sustainably conscious lifestyle to live in.

Earthship Home Example: 

Image Reference:

Santa Fe Style Architecture Example: 

Image Reference:

Design Overview:

To create a model of an Earthship home, I focused on the use of clay for the structure. Although the additional materials I used would not be part of an actual Earthship home, they serve as a representation of the upcycled materials that are often used in the construction. To represent the large windows and solar panels, I used pieces of a plastic fruit container. The metal bottle cap and tab and the plastic beads represent the use of glass and plastic recycled materials.

Materials Used:

  • Scrap clay
  • Plastic fruit container
  • Metal bottle cap
  • Beads from a broken necklace
  • Metal can tab

Process Pictures: 

Final Design Pictures: 


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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Genuinely didn’t know these types of homes existed so its cool that you shared that background about it!
    I was wondering if the use of upcycled materials decreases the actual sale/construction price of a home like this or if they value for more than the average home due to their quirky architecture and unique build.

    As for your piece, good progress! The side panel with the can tab and bottle cap remind me of a slice of fruit cake so I thought that was pretty cool haha


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