Using the earth to create human shelters is an age old method of building. At its origins, it represents man’s resourcefulness – to utilize the materials at his disposal effectively, creating a dwelling that is naturally insulated and seamlessly integrated with the landscape. It is just as important now as it was then to conserve energy and resources and to protect the environment.

TIA Architects has designed two prototype Turf Houses using site characteristics typical in New England and taking into account energy and resource conservation, aesthetics, appropriate land use, and human needs.

Prototype One is set into a south-facing slope. It is earth-covered on the upward slope of the site; that is, on the north side. Nevertheless, the house is bright, naturally well-ventilated, and has an abundance of south-facing glass. The approach to the house is on the east along a landscaped retaining wall with a view of the attached greenhouse. The sunken kitchen/dining area is open to the living room and directly accessible to the greenhouse. Both the first floor living room and guest/study, as well as the greenhouse, lead to a spacious patio.

The second prototype (bottom right) is situated on a sandy knoll and is open both to the north and south. The east and west sides of the house are completely below grade and the roof is earth-covered. There is a courtyard and greenhouse on the south side where the main entrance is also located.

Turf House I – Floor Plans

Both Turf House designs permit a number of configurations and room layouts, but must have a well-drained site with optimum solar orientation.