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Tranqvillium : Tiny Houses and Earthbags - Sustainable Living in the Mojave

World, North America, USA, Tecopa



Travel dates

About the workproject

We need 11 volunteers

In 2016 we purchased 2.5 acres of land in the California Mojave Desert, and since then we have been working hard to create Gaia Earthen Technologies Polytechnic's first campus: a sustainable living research and learning center. Since this project is operating on a shoestring budget, we are in constant need of the helping hands of sustainability-minded people. We have made great progress but still far from our goals. If you join us, you will be able to learn hands-on about the following topics:
- Sustainable carpentry
- Permaculture
- Structural design
- Solar electricity and passive solar hot water production
- Starplate mini-homes (single frequency geodesic domes)
- Composting
- Underground greenhouses
- Superadobe building (later stage)
- Alternative and natural cooling methods

We are 100% off the grid we have solar power, gravity-fed pressurized water, all the tools and materials necessary for the construction work. If you are compelled to do so, come visit us in the California Mojave Desert near the beautiful Tecopa Hot Springs, the world famous Red Rock Canyon climbing area, and Las Vegas.
If you like it here and a rent/bills/food expense free living is appealing to you, you can become a permanent member of the egalitarian community that owns and operates this educational facility.
We are looking forward to meeting you in person whether you want to come for a week, or you want to share this beautiful piece of the desert with us as a part of our community.

About the host

Erik (57)

Host since



English, German, Hungarian

I am fluent in English and Hungarian and speak a little German. Kortney is fluent in English and speaks Spanish very well.

Last seen online

more than 6 month ago

Hi there! Kortney and Erik here. I (Erik) am the founder of a non-profit organization founded with the purpose of teaching and researching sustainable living practices.
I am an engineer and an Earth-architect, a graduate and former faculty of Nader Khalili’s CalEarth Institute. I was the first person to fully design and get permitted a Superadobe-Earthship structure in a major US city (Las Vegas) back in 2014.
In 2016 we purchased 2.5 acres of land in the California Mojave Desert, and since that we have been working hard to create Gaia’s first campus.
We enjoy hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and exploring new places.

My project blog

Progress on our first rocket mass heater

January 25, 2021

Now that we have three and a half starplate domes up and running (they don't actually run anywhere, but they are functional as buildings), we have been building a rocket mass heater for Building 3. A rocket stove is an efficient, wood-burning system that can be made of almost any kind of material; we've chosen to make it out of trash (repurposed cans found in the desert, foraged rocks, dirt from the ground, water, etc). The unique J-shaped design of a rocket stove allows a constant flow of air to run one direction through the fire, creating a perfect burn and collecting as much heat from the fire as possible. That means less fuel, more heat!In addition to using this style of stove, we are also creating a mass from mud and rocks to collect even more heat. Because the only thing better than heat on a cold desert night is more heat. We will create a bench shape on the side of the stove that will house the exhaust pipes, thus collecting even more heat before the hot gases exit the building and storing that heat in the clay bench. The bench can stay warm for days if the stove burns hot enough, keeping the space warmer for longer without needing to add more fuel to the fire. Viola!So far, we have created the burn chamber, the heat riser and the insulative layer for the heat riser. The insulation is a combination of dirt, concrete, perlite and water.Coming next: we build the exhaust pipes using hundreds of cans taped together and complete a test burn! Stay tuned, stay wild and creative.

Project dates

Open for offers, contact us

Work to be done

  • gardening
  • construction
  • farming
  • teaching projects
  • maintenance tasks

Expected workhours

  • 5 hours a day
  • 5 days a week

Work exchange deal

  • shared cottage, tent

For now, bring your own tent and gear. We may or may not have a yurt for Workawayers to stay in. If necessary we can provide tents, and sleeping bags but please let us know if you need it.

  • shared meals

We often eat meals together, especially if there is a large group of volunteers at one time. Usually you can prepare breakfast for yourself using the food we have here. If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies we can work with that. We both eat vegetarian at home. Occasionally meat is donated, and you are welcome to it.

  • no money is involved