If you look to indigenous people for inspiration many low tech solutions left by our ancestors can suit us fine today. And one dreamer and doer that our friends go to intern with in the past is the late Nader Khalili from Iran. He had a dream to build womb-like homes for desert dwellers and lived out his dreams at Cal-Tech in California where models of his natural buildings made from sand bags can be explored. You can see an example at Cal-Tech below.
Working with NASA as part of an initiative to design homes fit for space, Iranian architect Nader Khalili conceived the dome home, pictured above, as an affordable, accessible, easy to build, and environmentally sensible housing solution. This works in dry desert climates such as Iran, Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority.
Nader first presented his Superadobe construction method, which involves stuffing bags full of readily available dirt and then stacking them in a circular form. The bags are held together with barbed wire, and then covered with lime plaster. Any holes are filled in with grout.
The resulting homes are so well-insulated, no air-conditioning is necessary in summer, and in winter, the thick walls retain enough heat to keep the interior space comfortably warm
In 1991, Khalili founded the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth), which continues to provide workshops and empower people around the world with these low impact structures.
For SharmsArd, a Palestinian firm that Ahmad Daoud commissioned to build his home in Jericho, building with Earth was an obvious choice that allows them to feel empowered in the context of the nation’s ongoing struggle towards a peaceful unification with their neighbours.
One of the firm’s partners, Danna Massad, expresses their collective desire to operate independently of the foreign aid that so many Palestinians have to rely on to make any kind of respectable living in Palestine.
“I think the Palestinian society is oversaturated with international aid,” she told NPR’s Emily Harris several years back.
“Of course, we’re not the only example of a local business that refuses any kind of aid, but we can see how excited people get … to see how you can actually do something without being dependent.”
Despite some skepticism from his community, Daoud is chuffed with his new home. “It’s an environmentally friendly house,” he told NPR. “I can tear it down and nothing will remain. In the summer, I don’t need air conditioning, and in the winter, I don’t need heat.”
More photos of Super Adobe in Jericho:
Photos of the construction process taken from SharmsArd Facebook Page.