Chookship; sustainable, passive solar, luxury chook accommodation made using Earthship technology
Chookship chickens eat food scraps, make yummy eggs and are damn cute – how can any sustainable garden get by without them! So as soon as Hilton Harvest first began as a twinkle in a keen Hilton gardener’s eye, we all knew that chickens would be part of it.
With inspiration and guidance from Nathan Rushton and Jess Fitzgerald the idea of a solar passive chook house soon morphed into the current design of an Earth Ship inspired Chook Ship. We started work on this project in October 2011, with its opening in November 2012. It was a long term project but the chookship is now the jewel in the crown of Hilton Harvest!
Key design principles of our earth ship are: · Northern orientation to capture winter sun and provide summer shade · Earth pounded tyres to provide protection from the elements and massive amounts of thermal mass · Concrete floor to meet Council requirements and provide more thermal mass · Ventilation pipes to provide cooling breezes in summer · Glass bottle walls to allow filtered eastern and western light · Roof made of insulated ‘cool room’ panels - angled to provide seasonal shading · An always accessible and sheltered room to give the girls some privacy when nesting/ laying · Outdoor area partly covered to protect from sun and wind · Caged wormwood plant to naturally control chicken mites · Grandpa feeder and self topped up watering system
Pounding earth into tyres is even more laborious than it sounds though, so many a weekend was spent with volunteer Hiltonites building the chook ship. We currently have six girls who call the chookship home and have a roster of community members checking on them daily.
The final stage will involve netting the orchard, so that “our girls” can roam under the fruit trees. This will give them plenty of roaming space, kill all the weeds and keep the fruit fly down by eating any fallen fruit.
Earth Ship's Earth Ship architecture was founded by Michael Reynolds in order to create truly sustainable, off grid houses and communities. They use solar passive design principles and up cycled rubbish (tyres, beer cans and glass bottles) to build organic looking homes.
As far as we know, there isn’t another building made of tyres in WA. If you know of one, please get in touch so we can spread the word.
We owe a huge thank you to Nathan and Jessie - without we wouldn't have the best chookhouse in Hilton! Jessie and Nathan are now living home in NZ and are building their own Earthship.
Just some of the team
First day of tyre pounding with Nathan and Ads
Mud slinging into the gaps between the tyres
Adobe render finished
Finishing off the lime render
Making the vandal proof chook run that will open onto the orchard