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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

One Listener's Dream House: Made from Tires

Air Date: Week of

Host Steve Curwood speaks with a listener who is building his own off-beat brand of dream house; a dwelling made from old tires.


CURWOOD: What kind of house would you like to live in? A ranch, a duplex, a colonial maybe? My next guest has his eyes on something different. Paul Potyen is a San Francisco-based media producer. Recently he bought a chunk of land in the Colorado mountains and has started building a straw house to live in temporarily while he constructs his permanent dwelling: a house made of tires. He joins us now by phone. Mr. Potyen, a straw house? I mean I have to say it sounds kind of cold for Colorado among other things.

POTYEN: Well, actually, straw builds have a very high insulation value, R-60 in fact.

CURWOOD: So that's better than a regular house.

POTYEN: That's right.

CURWOOD: Well, what will this house look like?

POTYEN: Well, it is going to be covered with stucco after the bales are up, so it will look a lot like an adobe house.

CURWOOD: Now, why are you building a temporary house? Seems like this would make a regular house that you could use for years, right?

POTYEN: Well, it's not actually a temporary house. It's the first step. It consists of a garage and a single room that we can live in while we construct the tire house, which will be attached.

CURWOOD: So, why is it that you want to go to tires? I mean, straw sounds easy, and if you say it's going to be permanent why not stick with that?

POTYEN: Well, a tire house uses entirely recycled materials, doesn't require a foundation. Basically you've got tires and dirt, and for internal walls you'll use recycled tin cans.

CURWOOD: Where do you get the tires from?

POTYEN: Well, that's one thing that there's an abundance of in this culture. I actually have some friends who are in various stages of building these tire houses, and they've had no trouble at all collecting tires from local service stations who are in the business of changing tires for people.

CURWOOD: Mm hm. Mr. Potyen, are you married?

POTYEN: Yes I am. For 25 years.

CURWOOD: So what did your wife say when you wanted to go to the mountains in Colorado and live in a house that's, well, a little piece of it's made out of straw and the rest of it's made out of tires?

POTYEN: Well, it took a lot of talking.

CURWOOD: [Laughs] I guess so!

POTYEN: I think she agree -- well, I know she agrees with the sort of goals that I have. And it's a matter of convincing her that I'm going to do it the right way, and that we're not going to get left broke with a house that caves in on us.

CURWOOD: Why this interest? What are your goals here in this alternative kind of housing?

POTYEN: Well, for a lot of years I've felt very strongly about environmental issues, and the way I sort of addressed my concern for those issues was to give money to admittedly worthy causes. But I really at the end of the day felt that it was sort of a hollow contribution. I didn't really know what was happening to my money. I felt increasingly a sense of isolation from my environment. So I decided that I wanted to actually be involved, and it seemed like literally the best place to start was at home.

CURWOOD: Are you going to be working in Colorado?


CURWOOD: Oh, good. I was hoping you'd say that, because otherwise you'd be re-tired.

POTYEN: Ohhhhh-whoaaaaaa! Bu-rump-ump, as we say in the music business.

CURWOOD: Well, Mr. Potyen, good luck.

POTYEN: Thanks.

CURWOOD: Paul Potyen lives for now in San Francisco.



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