Underground Rock Home
When we first moved to the suburbs, our new neighbors mentioned a group of underground houses located in our town. The houses were hidden in a very wooded area that was accessed by a small barely paved road. We found the houses and were amazed by the unusual appearance of the neighborhood.
We saw what looked like roofs covered with green grass. There were entrances that were visible above ground. Several years later, I met one of the underground home owners and discovered that usually there was a small entry with immediate stairs leading to the living area. The house I visited was light, bright, open, and very inviting. Beyond that, the house was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We considered the concept to be quite interesting.
I have not heard much about underground houses in the last few years or perhaps I have not been reading the right publications. Currently, these houses are often referred to as “Earth Sheltered Homes”. The word shelter is the key word. Shelter: defined as a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements. Educational studies have stated that shelter is a basic need.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper in 1943 titled “A Theory of Human Motivation”. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, physiological needs were the most fundamental and necessary. These needs include food, clothing, and shelter from the elements. With this researched information in mind, earth sheltered homes become much more than an unusual home. They become a possibly better option for our environment in regards to safety, energy, wildlife preservation as well as a means to provide a subdued place to reside.
According to niftyhomestead.com, earth sheltered homes “use the ground as an insulating blanket which effectively protects it from temperature extremes including wind, rain, and extreme weather events.” Nifty Homestead includes on their website a tour of an 1900 square foot earth sheltered home built by architect Alan Shope. The following video features a tour of this earth sheltered house in Upstate New York.
The website granitehistory.org/underground-houses/ lists seven possibly surprising facts about these underground houses or earth sheltered houses. The seventh fact states that underground houses could possibly be one of the most comfortable places to live. The website goes further and states that underground houses might be the most comfortable living space. Although usually costly to build, underground homes heat and cool with ease. These earth sheltered homes can provide safety in emergencies as well as other weather/natural disasters.