Earth-sheltered homes—mostly buried in dirt—have been around for centuries. Now the four Milicevic sisters are creating a hobbit-style village in southeast Europe. They hope their snug community will appeal to experience seekers, Bosnian culture enthusiasts, and The Lord of the Rings fans.
“This world is not my home,” goes the gospel song. It’s true: This Earth isn’t the final destination for believers. They have an abiding home in heaven and one day in the newly restored Earth. (Hebrews 10:34; Revelation 21:1-3)
Earth-sheltered homes take the form of dugouts, earth lodges, and sod houses around the globe. These buildings have one or more sides covered with dirt.
What’s great about swathing a structure in soil? Dirt is inexpensive (or free!), and it insulates against temperature extremes. Plus, an earth-sheltered house blends perfectly into the landscape because it is the landscape!
There are downsides to being walled by dirt. Limited natural light, added weight, increased moisture, and few escape routes are factors with many earth-sheltered homes.
In Bosnia, the Milicevics aren’t deterred. Milijana, Vedrana, Marija, and Valentina Milicevic developed Kresevo Hobbiton in the village of Rakova Noga near Kresevo. It’s about 40 minutes’ from Sarajevo, the capital.
“We have often held family gatherings on this hill,” says Milijana, the eldest, of the property. It features long-range valley views and a lake nestled among hills. The sisters wanted to “make use of this view for tourism purposes.”
Last year, geology engineer Marija proposed building a house in hobbit-home style from the idyllic Shire of J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales.
Plans burgeoned. Each sister would decorate one dwelling as she liked. But every “hole house” in Hobbiton would include features of the area where they live.
Two houses are completed. Three more are under construction. The first, named Lipa, features a round green door and window à la Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ house. Milijana spent most of her childhood in the village of Lipa. The area’s beloved linden tree is also a “lipa.”
“Lipa is my nostalgia, the memory of a healthy childhood,” she says.
Ober, the second house, is named for an area cinnabar mine. Artisans use the mineral cinnabar for applying gold leaf. Ober’s door and window are red, the color of cinnabar ore. Faux stalactites hang cave-like from the ceiling.
Bedem house is under construction. With stone towers at the front, it’s named after the fortress where Bosnia’s last queen, Katarina, stayed while in Kresevo.
Tourists reviews of Hobbiton are glowing. From fairy-tale façades to cozy quarters, Hobbiton seems perfectly Tolkien-esque: “It was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
Why? Nostalgia plus art (story) plus science (building) combined can blossom into imaginative ideas that get developed into real-life experiences.