There are a few factors to consider when choosing what type of walls you build. Of course they will need to be structurally sound, strong, the best they can be in an earthquake....this goes without saying. But we should also be expecting a lot more... 



Certain walls don't just prevent heat from escaping but can also store heat it like a battery.

Thermal Mass:
A wall which is classed as thermal mass acts a little like a battery. It will soak up the days sun even if the weather is cold outside...all you need is those UV rays or heat input from the inside. If you choose a thick wall it will take a little longer to gain full heat but once it does it will give out the warmth throughout the night.
Thermal mass walls behave differently to insulative ones. Basically the tighter packed, heavier and more solid the wall the higher thermal mass rating it has. Insulative walls have air gaps and are good at slowing the process of the heat escaping through them. Some walls in your home which do not gain solar radiance would work better as insulative.

So here we have a few examples of just some of the different walls you can have and their advantages...

mud brick collage
These give fantastic thermal mass and once laid you can stand back and admire your work knowing they'll last for hundreds of years - the egyptians proved it. Heavier than regular bricks weighing around 15kgs each this is what gives them strength and energy storage.

Construction consists of mixing water with crushed up mud bricks already prepared to use as mortar then simply wetting them as you lay just like normal brickwork. We enjoyed working with them greatly, something about getting your hands dirty with natural product that's a lot of fun. Obviously no toxins.

Asthetically they can be rendered with stone to give them a nice polished finish, painted over or if this is not your style simply plaster over and paint - noone will know.

Economically laying these is very labour intensive but cheaper with the cost of materials. The energy savings will also pay for themselves so it would be a great idea to gather some help and lay them as a team. It is also worth bearing in mind maintenance which is a simple process if done regularly.

tyre wall and cob collage
Earthship Biotecture are at the forefront of this revolution and have been using old tyres to construct walls for over 3 decades! The advantages are strength, being a free material (so desperate to get rid of tyres you'll get delivery for free too) The thermal mass is pretty much the best you can get. Huge black rubber steel tied bricks packed full of mud and rock. They act as little batteries giving off heat they have soaked up. So strong so for areas which suffer natural disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes these could well be a solution.
There is some scepticism over the use of this toxic rubber, when tyres are open to rain and sunshine they leech into the ground and take around 700 years to bio-degrade. This is what is happening to tyres currently as they lay around everywhere. Earthships cover them in cob completely...they'll never see moisture and sunshine again!

Constructed simply by packing them with mud and rock, leveling and laying ontop of one another, rebars pierced through and cobbing over the top. Very labour intensive but cheap if you can gather some volunteers.

 you can finish any way you like. The pictures above give you step by step of how they are constructed. layers of cob (clay, sand and straw) are packed over the tyres until they are completely hidden. After that it's up to you.

Economically - FREE material + delivery. 
However very labour intensive so get those guns ready. Earthship is a growing network with students wanting to participate and learn. As there is not much skill involved in pounding a tyre it's more than likely you'll be able to get a great deal of help building your wall and for close to no expense.


Bottle walls
Now look at these beauties! Feature walls like these are really starting to take off. The thickness of a wall like this is up to you. The ones constructed in the pictures above were around 20-30cm thick.
Used beer, spirit or wine bottles are cut with a glass cutter, washed tried and then taped together, you then lay these creating a pattern packing them in with concrete.
The thermal mass to these isn't as much as the tyres but concrete is still in that category. the bottles being so thick acts better then double glazing.

Asthetically you have yourself a solid wall with stained glass, you can create pretty much whatever pattern you like and enjoy coollecting all the bottles too. The concrete used to finish the look can be coloured to look even better than the above pictures.

Economically you will need to think of your time but it's a very pleasurable job and something you are more than likely going to want to do yourself if building your own home (think of it like an art hobby). The concrete will cost but the bottles can be picked up from your local recycling centre, local pubs or your own home.

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