Fife's unique Earthship Centre broken up and recycled as doors shut permanently

A unique visitor centre in Fife – the only one of its kind in Scotland – has closed after nearly two decades and is set to be removed completely from the north side of Kinghorn Loch.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 5:28 pm

The process of dismantling the Earthship Fife building has now begun and is set to be completed in the next few weeks.

The Earthship, an eco building made from tyres and keeps itself warm using thermal mass and solar gain, provides its own electricity, water supply and sewage treatment.

It has been popular with local community groups and schoolchildren who have enjoyed activities there over the years.

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The Earthship Fife which has been at Kinghorn Loch for nearly two decades.

The site links up to wider longer walks in the area and also featured a popular wildflower labyrinth.

The Earthship took two years to build, opened in 2004 and has welcomed thousands of visitors over the years.

Paula Cowie, SCI development manage, outside the Earthship Fife Visitor Centre in Kinghorn. Pic: George McLuskie.

Paula Cowie, development manager at SCI (Sustainable Communities Initiatives), the charity which owns the facility, explained why it has shut.

“Craigencalt Farm, which owns the land, was privately owned for around 18 years and we had a fantastic relationship with the previous owners. Around two years ago it was bought by a small business and it has different needs to us.

"After a long period of discernment it became clear our needs were not compatible.

“The owner is not a charity, it is a business and has a different approach so we didn't want to leave the Earthship behind in case it wouldn’t be used the way we intended it to be.

The Earthship took two years to build and opened its doors in 2004.

"We decided to dismantle it and recycle it – giving parts to people who really care about it.

"Re-using and re-purposing has always been at the heart of what we do, and we are also able to share information on how the building has lasted with those planning to build an Earthship in the future.”

Paula said various community groups and individuals are taking parts of it away to make use of it.

“For example, 100 tyres from it are going to a community garden growing food, a few hundred more are also going to a sustainable glamping project, and lots of plants are going to a community garden and other different places.

A rocket stoves workshop is one of the activities which has been held at Earthship Fife over the years.

"Plants from our wildflower labyrinth are going to local people. It’s nice to know they will be going to good use elsewhere.”

She said: “The purpose of the Earthship was to introduce a really sustainable housing model to Scotland and we wanted to know how it would work in a Scottish climate because it was coming from New Mexico.

"It was a big experiment and has been amazing. We have done lots of different events there including youth climate projects, storytelling, community creative waste workshops, nature connection projects using the land around the Earthship, children designing eco houses as well as families using it for activities.

Paula added: "We had an online goodbye Earthship ceilidh and what came across is that although the building might no longer be there, the effect it has had on people’s lives and how it has changed them won’t go away.

"People have lots of lovely memories including how the Earthship brought a lot of hope to them and that is something that will live on.”

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Plastics ‘r’ Fantastic - Fife Science Festival event which took place at Earthship Fife Visitor Centre. Pictured is Alma Reid (7), making a wind-mill. Pic: Walter Neilson.

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