Erdhaus – 14 Earth Houses Are Environmentally Appealing & Beautiful

by Sherry Riter in New Home  

It is going to be difficult for me to eventually build a house because I like so many different design concepts! For instance, I really love the warm and natural appeal of the Low Impact Woodland Home with natural wood everywhere. On the flip side, I love the peaceful, tucked away feeling of the Villa Vals Earth House that incorporates a whole bunch of concrete.

Although I am currently in a quandary with so many options, by the time I finish all my house research, I hope I can incorporate many different aspects into one home. I guess time will tell if I am successful with my goal.

Since I am truly inspired with the idea of being more energy efficient and less intimidating to the layout of the land, I started researching Peter Vetsch, an architect who is a pioneer in earth houses. Vetsch creates sprayed concrete constructions that ignore right angles and incorporates a free flowing form that is more energy efficient.

Earth house construction

Earth house framed

The Earth House Is Insulated

The manner in which the earth houses are constructed, the shape of the concrete structures and the layer of polyurethane makes them airtight thus helping save the jingle in your wallet. As a matter of fact, there is a 50 percent savings due to the reduction in heat loss. Did you just do the math in your head? No? Well, I did and that much of a savings is impressive. The earth around the house acts like a large blanket which insulates the building and holds in the heat during the cold winter months.

House Giovannone in Luterbach, Switzerland

Earth House - Erdhaus - Giovannone

Earth House - Erdhaus - Giovannone frame

The Earth House Is Airtight

The earth house design is very air tight which has several desirable effects:

  • Drafts are eliminated.
  • The house feels more comfortable because there isn’t a constant layer of cold air at your feet. I wonder if I would have to wear my big, fluffy slipper boots any more? Hmmm…
  • Goodbye to the humid air.
  • Since less of the outside air gets inside the building, allergens and pollutants are also reduced.
  • Great sound insulation.

Residence in North West Germany

Earth House - Erdhaus - Large one-story house

Earth House - Erdhaus - Has a party room and a detached art studio

Earth House - Erdhaus - Environmentally friendly heating due to heat pump system

Earth House - Erdhaus - Residence in North West Germany

The Earth House Is Protected

Obviously, an earth house is at least partially covered with earth. Actually, an earth house is often built inside an already formed hill. Because of the layer of earth that surrounds and covers part of the building, the earth house is protected from many of the natural elements. With the blanket of earth, the house is not exposed and thus protected.

House Guldimann In Lostorf, Switzerland

Earth House - Guldimann - Lostorf, Switzerland

Earth House - Guldimann - built into the hillside

Earth House - Guldimann - house, granny flat and basement

House Dubler In Waltenschwil, Switzerland

Earth House - House Dubler - two stories

Earth House - House Dubler - garage in the basement

Earth House - House Dubler

Earth House - House Dubler - connecting corridor

Earth House - House Vetsch - Dietikon, Switzerland

The Earth House Uses Versatile Energy Sources

I don’t know about you, but one of the most enjoyable experiences I partake of several times each day is a nice HOT shower and occasionally a HOT bubbly bath. Living in an earth house does not mean I would have to give up modern conveniences.

The earth house allows for energy from quite a number of sources per the information found on the website:

  • Heat source – air: Ambient air is present in any amount and can be easily used as a heat source, free and without special permission.
  • Heat source – earth: the energy stored in the ground can be exploited easily, either with one or more vertical boreholes.
  • Heat source – thermal spring water: Because of its nearly constant temperature throughout the year, groundwater is suitable as a heat source for a heat pump heating. But also surface water from lakes, rivers, streams and waste water can be used as an energy source.
  • Heat source – sun: The collector area is sufficient to cover 50-70 percent of annual demand of hot water for a family of four. In fog or clouds, the heating system provides the necessary additional warming.


It is hard to believe that the sun can provide 50-70 percent of annual demand of hot water for a family of four.

Dolder House In Widen, Switzerland

House Hotz In Urdorf, Switzerland

Earth House - House Hotz - Urdorf, Switzerland

Earth House - House Hotz

The Earth House Protects Against Weather

Since the earth house does not have 90 degree corners, but instead is shaped with soft and rounded rooms, winds during a storm cause little to no damage. The earth house is at least partially built in the ground, so the earth itself is a barrier to the harsh elements.

“The stability of the round shapes in combination with the Netzarmierung forms an ideal basis for protection against earthquakes.”

Since the main part of the building is constructed of concrete, the threat of fire is not as prevalent in comparison to wood framed homes.

Those were definitely three great ways that the earth house can protect against the harsh elements of weather.

House Vetsch In Dietikon, Switzerland

Earth House - House Vetsch - overlooking the city of Zurich

Earth House - House Vetsch - circular floor plan and the dome-like shape

Earth House - House Vetsch - Dietikon, Switzerland

Leisure facility Chrüzacher In Dietikon, Switzerland

Earth House - Leisure facility Chrüzacher - earth-covered buildings

Earth House - Leisure facility Chrüzacher

Earth House - Leisure facility Chrüzacher - animal enclosures and gardens

The Earth House Is Compact And Easy On The Eyes

Earth houses blend with the landscape with the gentle curves of the building and earth covered roofs. Without the wasted space of a 90 degree corner, the rooms feel cozy and have less wasted space to heat or cool.

In addition to the energy efficiency of the building, the earth covered roof not only protects the house, but also leaves the landscape uninterrupted by a huge building. Since grass and plants grow on the roof and around the earth covered house, the vegetation helps to replenish the oxygen.

Erdhaussiedlung Lättenstrasse In Dietikon, Switzerland

Earth House - Erdhaussiedlung Lättenstrasse - bathrooms are exposed through skylights

Earth House - Erdhaussiedlung Lättenstrasse - housing complex consists of nine houses

Earth House - Erdhaussiedlung Lättenstrasse - Dietikon, Switzerland

House Walter-Andreas Müller In Madetswil, Switzerland

Earth House - House Walter-Andreas Müller - Madetswil, Switzerland

Earth House - House Walter-Andreas Müller - in a hillside, surrounded by apple orchards

Earth House - House Walter-Andreas Müller - center of the house is a courtyard with a reed pond which is lit by a large dome skylight

The Earth House Is Bright And Well Lit

Although an earth house is partially built beneath the ground or covered by earth, the large windows provide a great amount of light to the space. In some models, skylights also are used to light a room. With the rounded nature of all the walls, candlelight would cast a lovely look and feel to the room. Of course, white walls and the use of mirrors can also enhance the light factor.

House Pallavincini In Arni, Switzerland

Earth House - House Pallavincini - heat pump heating and large garage

Earth House - House Pallavincini - Arni, Switzerland

The Earth House Has A Balanced Humidity Level

The special construction of earth houses leads to balance in the climatic conditions. During the summer, the house is kept cool and in winter it is warm with a lot less effort and energy. Another advantage to an earth house is that the humidity remains pleasant and comfortable because it remains at a constant around 50 percent. In contrast, conventional houses during the winter tend to be dry and overheated because of the drafts and this leads to too low, relative humidity.

Swiss Residence In Flurlingen, Switzerland

Earth House - Swiss Residence - Flurlingen, Switzerland

Earth House - House Pallavincini - three stories

House Leuzinger In Arni, Switzerland

Earth House - House Leuzinger - Arni, Switzerland

Earth House - House Leuzinger - sauna

Earth House - House Leuzinger - 5 1/2 rooms

Earth House - House Leuzinger

I really didn’t find any negatives to this type of house. There are so many positive aspects of having an “Earth House” by architect, Peter Vetsch, that I wish I could go out tomorrow and buy one!

Earth House - House Leuzinger - I could live with this view

Such a beautiful view. I could sit and stare out this window for hours.

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nantawan Bennett November 19, 2011 at 5:14 am

Wow, it very interesting, I would like to have a house like this may be someday I will build it in Thailand. 🙂


2 Bev November 19, 2011 at 8:56 am

I want one of each. Thank you!


3 Katherines Corner November 19, 2011 at 9:29 am

We would absolutely live in one ( if we had the financial means). This was a terrific post I enjoyed all of the photos and details. You are so thorough. xo


4 Brian Miller November 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

oh wow these are so cool…love the flow and feel of them…thanks for all the examples/pics as well…


5 Rachel Firasek November 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Wow, I'm an author and this just inspired me. Thank you so much for sharing!


6 Prime Aque November 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

All of them are beautiful my friend! I could not even select the best for me because of them are like paradise to live with the rest of my family one day! Yet I have a dream house though, it's not luxurious, and I picture it out to be near the woods, in front of a placid lake! I just want to build solar energy and something like that, I wanted to use all unpaid powers! Well, for now it remain a dream but I know one day it will be mine! Thank you for sharing this! Your blog is superb my friend! More power!


7 Westlawns November 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Beautiful and functional. Reminds me of the Hobbit?
Excellent photography.


8 Renee Michaels November 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Wow, what lovely whimsical homes! Just looking at them makes me happy. Updates the whole idea of earth homes. Wish these could be produced for the masses, instead of the ugly, cookie-cutter homes found in sub-divisions.


Leave a Comment

"How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment
when we realize we have discovered a friend."

~William E. Rothschild~

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
I respond back to all comments.


Previous post:

Next post: