WPC: Experimental

This structure is one of many “super-adobe” shelters created at Cal-Earth.

Every abode at Cal-Earth is constructed of sandbags, barbed wire, and earth.

Earth turns to gold in the hands of the wise. – Rumi

These shelters offer 120 square feet of floor space. Each one can be built in a single day by a team of seven people. They are resistant to earthquakes, floods and fire. What a difference these could make today in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

They have been tested to withstand an earthquake of 7.0

“Cal-Earth develops and educates the public in self-help, environmentally sustainable building designs. Houses anyone can build with their own two hands, using locally available earth, sandbags and barbed wire, that meet modern-day standards for safety, beauty, energy efficiency, and comfort.  Cal-Earth’s designs have been studied by NASA, endorsed and used by the United Nations, featured in countless world media outlets, and awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Our Superadobe building system (U.S. Patent #5,934,027) integrates traditional earth architecture with contemporary global safety requirements, and has passed severe earthquake code tests in California.” ~ CalEarth.org

I learned about Cal-Earth through a documentary on my local public television. How fortunate that Cal-Earth is only 45 minutes from my house!

The genius and founder of this organization is Nader Khalili.

“Nader Khalili (1936-2008) is the world-renowned Iranian-American architect, author, humanitarian, teacher, and innovator of the Geltaftan Earth-and-Fire system known as Ceramic Houses, and of the Superadobe construction system. Khalili received his philosophy and architectural education in Iran, Turkey, and the United States. In 1984, Lunar and Space habitation became an integral part of his work. He presented his “Magma Structures” design, based on Geltaftan System, and “Velcro-Adobe” system (later to become Superadobe) at the 1984 NASA symposium, “Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century.” He was subsequently invited to Los Alamos National Laboratory as a visiting scientist.”

Tours are offered once monthly. Training is offered on their site as well as via the internet.

This home is their demonstration project.

Discover more experimental ideas via this week’s photo challenge “Experimental”


23 thoughts on “WPC: Experimental

    1. It’s truly an inspiring place, Cindy. The brief lecture given by Nader Khalili’s daughter & son about their father’s architectural and humanitarian journey seemed to make it inevitable that he would conceive of the shelters and homes we saw at the open house.


  1. This is such a great initiative. Not all of us are as fortunate as each other, but we can all lean on each other to keep moving forwards. These super-adobes sure look cozy, but most importantly they are there to protect and shelter. Great shots.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mabel. During the brief lecture we learned that people who learned to make these super-adobe structures took the technology to Nepal to share. They built a school there for the kids, and their structure was the only one left standing after an earthquake leveled the rest of the village. A blessing shared!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr. Kahlili studied architecture and designed large glass & steel commercial buildings. Not really food for the spirit, though! He married the availability of earth with the strength of arch & dome. Yes, cozy in winter & cool in summer.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Their website shows many varieties of homes built all over the world using this technology. The flavor of local taste comes through in each of the designs.
      Thanks Sandy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is really so cool, you’re right. Those little tennis-ball nodules on the outside of some of structures were another invention, providing the benefit of attenuating the effects of heavy rain flow. And NASA was interested in the technology for building structures on the moon. Wow!

      Liked by 1 person

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