I’m planning a trip out to LA in the next couple months to shoot, and the #1 place I want to photograph is Cal-Earth, a super adobe village in Hespiria. This sustainable desert village was founded by Nader Khalili, a Iranian-American architect who created the superadobe system. These structures are built by layers of sandbags that are set in a circular plan with four point barbed wire between each layer for stability, and is corbeled at the top to create a domed roof. Khalili invented this building type after years of studying traditional adobe buildings in Iran and while working with NASA on moon buildings. The amazing thing about these buildings are that they are hurricane, flood and earthquake resistant and are also sustainable, adaptable and totally affordable.
This is from an article in the Washington Post:
Khalili traces his mid-career epiphany to a realization that 800 million people were consigned to “totally unsuitable housing,” through war, natural disaster or unkind history. As an architect, he concluded that “the only thing they had in common to them was the earth under their feet.” In the Iranian desert, he studied structures that had stood for 4,000 years. He found that they were largely shell structures — domes, arches and vaults — made from earth, water, air and fire.
Khalili’s Superadobe structures respect the age-old form but include modern innovations, such as polyester bags, cement mixed in to strengthen the mud and barbed wire for structural support. They can be built for very little money anywhere relief officials and housing authorities are open to something other than steel and concrete boxes.
I first learned about Cal-Earth on NPR after Khalili died in March- I wasn’t able to find the very interesting segment that they did on him at the time, but this is a good little story about the superadobe village. The history of these structures is just incredibly fascinating to me, and they are really gorgeous buildings- I think I could take some very gorgeous photos there.