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Namaskar to you all,

Long time... or maybe it only seems long. Running far behind the events as usual, but this time I decided to write about my last things first and do the travel newsletter # 16-19 later. They will come promise, the photo's are already in place, just have to do the writing.

About a year and a half my brother, Yatindra, send me an article about Nader Khalili who after years of successfully designing highrise and skyscrapers turned to the basics of building and came up with a way to build with minimum resources. It involves bags, either the standart sandbags or long tubular bags, and earth. Cement can be used to stabilise it but even the structures without passed the highest standart of building codes used in California. While measuring the earthquake resistance and by far exceding the requirements finally the testing equipment started to fail while the houses still didn't show any signs of distortion!

The houses, either simple emergency domes, or more the elaborate designs all share the simplicity of the basic forms of arches, domes and voults. Not only are they cheap to build without needing sophisticated equipment but they are eastetically pleasing, cool in Summer and easy to keep warm in winter due to the large thermal mass of the walls.


UN emergency village, many more
shelters to the right

I arrived late night after attending the group meditation in Los Angeles. Phaniindra drove me there and when he saw the buildings in the beautifull light of the full moon he fell in love as well!

I slept in the building above, the one in the middle. Below left you can see the inside and the sleeping niche. The photo was taken from the sleeping niche accross the room.

Sleeping pouch The Rumi dome

In the morning we had our introduction with Nader Khalili in the Rumi dome. We also introduced ourselves to one another. I felt very much at home as all were in their own unique ways very spiritual minded, and practical service minded as well.

Naders introduction class was very inspiring and puts architecture back in it's proper human place. He also  knows the best way to really learn is to do:


First class; building freestanding arch And... ready!

The first experiment was to build an arch with bricks, to understand it's nature and strenth. I teamed up with Paul (above left) and after it collapsed the first time we got it right! Complely freestanding and no cement to hold the bricks together, just sand! Than we build one with tryangular bricks, a bit more tricky but it stood (have photo) for few minutes till I pushed on it... (have photo of that too:-)


No cement, no glue, just little stones to
space, gravity and the right shape
Second classs; an other experiment, a free
standing dome with lose bricks

In our experiment we used a half circular form to build our arch and than removed it when the arch was ready. The shape above left is even more balanced as you can see, I think it's an parabole.

Our next experiment was to biuld a dome with lose bricks and get to know it's nature.

And... it's strong Removing more and more, still standing!
Cristina, Martin, Jim, Anna and Susan 

And, yes it is strong! We didn't even try to make it very neat, just stack all the different size bricks on top of eachother. Jim our trainer was so confident that he climbed on top! After we looked how many bricks we could take out before it would collaps, and... indeed it's many, big gaping holes and it still stood!

Till finally... third class, filling the bags.

Now we had some idea of the strenth of arches and domes (a rotated arch) Next was to get an introduction of the Super Adobe (tm) method. Normally adobe needs to be the right mix, shaped in bricks, dried and than finally build. Quite a bit of work and the soil needs to be just right. Naders way is simple, in it's basic form we just filled up the long bags with dry sand and thats it. It can also easily be landscaped with curves.

Coleen putting the barbwire to
connect the layers
First layer of a small dome. Little Sky adding
his bucket of sand to the building

Each layer has barb wire in between to prevent it from lateral movement and give it tensile strenth. Filling the bags is easy, even 2yo? Sky was helping! Anyone can learn and almost anyone can do it. Normally a small percentage of cement is added to stabilise the soil and make it even more strong. Above we made a start on a 12 feet (I had to learn to think in these strange measurements of feet, inches, pounds, yards, miles and some more. It's strange, I can perfectly convert them in metric but when hearing people talk it's very hard to get a feel for the size) Actually the shape of these domes with super adobe is not circular where the hight is the same as the radius, but lanced where the hight is twice the radius.

A bit higher up, me on the left, 
Susan on the right
Buckets flying, the full ones up
and the empthy ones down.

Here working on an other almost ready building. Putting the last rings of earth filled bag to make the roof. You can see how we use a pipe to make it easier to fill the bags and how with teamwork we get the mix from down in the wheelbarrow to up on the building. It's really fun and you don't need to get people to do it for you. A family could build it by themselves with a lot of fun, a lot of heart and little money.

The ecodome under construction, a voulted 
house in the background
Preparations to make a voult

Again an other building on which we did some work. This design is used to build cells for the monks of a monastery nearby. I'd love to have a place like this!

On the right we prepared the mould for making a voulted building. A voult is a stretched arch. These houses have square rooms. Earth One is a design of a 3000 sq ft. (300sq meter) house, with a double garage, a living room, family room, kitchen and dining room, and three bedrooms. Much bigger than the house I grew up in but actually much cheaper too!

Coleen and Solarman working on the mold A brick dome under construction

We didn't actually get to make a building with voults but setting up the mould with all the details gave us sufficient idea to be able to build one, once back in the world out there. We did make part of a dome with bricks and mud mortar. We even made a nice window:-)

Too many photo's so the rest in the next issue.


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Also all photo's are available in high resolution 1600x1200 and free to use for non-commercial purposes.

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