SuperAdobe Spotlight: New Ruins

New Ruins is a home and Airbnb nestled in the hills of Oaxaca overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This bungalow uses 100% solar energy and offers privacy, stunning views and is just an hour drive from one of the top ten surf breaks in the world, Puerto Escondido.

Learn more about this SuperAdobe gem from owner, Nicholaus Ames!

1. What is your SuperAdobe dome used for?

We use our SuperAdobe houses for living and renting on Airbnb. Southern Mexico is hot and having half a meter of compacted earth really makes for one of the best materials for a comfortable home. We also use SuperAdobe to make terraces for patios and gardens. We make retaining walls to be backfilled and clay tiled, playing with the inclined terrain and large rocks to make interesting spaces.

2. Why did you build using the SuperAdobe method?
Cost. Steel for traditional concrete work is expensive. Building with the SuperAdobe method allowed us to keep our cost down and the labor in this area is not expensive. We also had access to clay. The neighboring town is a brick-making community sitting on a large bank of clay. In addition, thermal properties make for comfortable living.

3. How much did it cost to build New Ruins? What steps did you take (if any) to keep the cost down, but still achieve the building you wanted?
The entire project has been expensive, which encompasses more than just SuperAdobe. The two SuperAdobe houses cost around $5,000+ USD each. Like any project, the devil is in the details, so i am not including finishing work in that estimate.

To keep costs down, we used car tire rims as port windows and earthbags from cattle ranchers and tortilla makers. For the second dome, we reused the door and window forms, when possible. We also had clay and earth premixed with a machine and then brought in truck loads. We used 1 truck of clay placed with 3 of regular earth, then mixed and 4 truck loads were delivered.

4. How long did it take you to build New Ruins?
Our first dome took us 3 months before we could live in it. For the second, we had better resources and understanding of the process and it only took 1.5 months.

5. The interior and exterior design of New Ruins is stunning. What is your background? What was your inspiration when building?
First off, thanks! None of us had much experience when we started the domes. "Fake it, 'til you make it." I'm a web programmer who wanted a change and had never built anything in my life. I've got smart friends who have helped along the way and gave advice or a hand. The interiors were slowly pieced together from purchased items in Oaxaca City, which has an incredible arts community with really great shopping. So, it all came together naturally, picking out things we liked personally. Using an all-white esthetic, we incorporated the colors into the accent items like art and textiles. And of course lots of locally-sourced wood. Earth and wood are very calming.

6. If you could describe New Ruins in one word, what would it be?

FREE Online Classes and Books to those Impacted by Wildfires

"Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder." -Rumi

"Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder." -Rumi

CalEarth is committed to helping residents affected by the California wildfires by providing online classes and books free of charge. Since 1991, our dedication to research and development of low-cost, eco-friendly technology resists natural disasters and offers hope to those in need.

If you or a loved one has been affected by the wildfires and are looking into alternative ways to rebuild, we are here to help.

Learn how to build a home, using just a few simple materials, including the earth beneath your feet. Our step-by-step videos will provide you with a possible alternative to re-build and guide you through the process of prepping your site and building a safe, sustainable dome.

Our thoughts go out to all those who have been impacted by the fires. If you would like to inquire about receiving FREE online classes and books, please send us an email letting us know about your personal circumstance and why you are interested in the classes/books. We look forward to working with you.

Photo credit: David Robert White, The Ojai Foundation

Photo credit: David Robert White, The Ojai Foundation

This SuperAdobe structure at The Ojai Foundation survived the Thomas Fires that swept across Southern California in 2017. Our founder Nader Khalili worked with The Ojai Foundation in the 1980's and we are still closely aligned with their work in sustainability and human empowerment.

We would like to host a free workshop in Northern California for those impacted and are looking for someone able to host and potentially provide some of the tools/materials. If you know of a location and would be willing to help make this happen, please contact us.

Art Beyond the Canvas - November 2-14, 2018

Don't miss CalEarth at "Art Beyond the Canvas" from November 2-14, 2018 at The Container Yard in downtown LA!

The event features the work of CalEarth, Eco Domes Africa and Intsikelelo and explores how the SuperAdobe method was used to build the Langbos Children's Shelter. This shelter (designed by CalEarth alumni Quintin Christian and his team) houses orphans and vulnerable children in one of the poorest rural communities in South Africa. The buildings utilize renewable energy systems including solar power, rainwater harvesting and waste water recycling.

Photographic works, video projections and an interactive SuperAdobe installation and virtual reality experience will educate attendees about SuperAdobe and take viewers through an immersive journey to the SuperAdobe construction site of the Langbos Children’s Shelter.

On Friday, November 2, join the Khalili family and CalEarth staff and alumni for the opening night reception starting at 8:00 p.m. This exhibit puts into action Nader Khalili's philosophy of empowering vulnerable communities through sustainable design and innovation.


SuperAdobe in Za'atari Refugee Camp funded by Oxfam

Check out this amazing video from Oxfam in the Middle East-- a SuperAdobe project built by refugees in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Hasan, one of the volunteers that helped Oxfam build the SuperAdobe building says, “We were always worried about going back to Syria, now I can build a house until I’m able to find a place to live in.” Learn more about Oxfam’s humanitarian response in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria:

SuperAdobe in Puerto Rico

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CalEarth alum Owen Ingley took a workshop in 2009 and has been working to promote SuperAdobe in Puerto Rico for the last 8 years. His nonprofit, Plentitud PR, has completed the construction of 3 structures in Puerto Rico, and all of them successfully survived the devastating impact of Hurricane María one year ago. In February 2018 Plenitud PR was granted funding from the Hispanic Federation to teach workshops on Superadobe emergency shelters and build a demonstration house. The work was recently featured on the front page newspaper article in the local newspaper, and they are receiving a lot of interest from local government officials. Keep up the great work Owen!

Weather Warriors Documentary

Check out this amazing new documentary about CalEarth. Thank you Tastemade and film director Tracy Wares and the whole crew for pulling this together. We are honored you wanted to tell our story—you did an exceptional job capturing both the technical... and the magical sides of the institute. 

If you believe in this work, we need your support. Visit our website today and donate. 

SuperAdobe Project in Persian Gulf: Presence in Hormuz (Iran)

We found out about this amazing project through instagram. They were nominated for Best Project of the Year by ArchDaily Magazine in 2017. This is a cafe and tourist information center on Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf of Iran. 

Client: Ehsan Rasulof
Architects: Zav Architects
Construction: Amir Tehrani
Location: Hormuz Island, Persian Gulf
Instagram: @rongcenter

JORDAN TIMES-Classrooms built by refugees for refugees win world architecture award

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“In their situation, refugees need simple, fast, low cost and sustainable solutions, which is what we are providing with these classrooms,” di Marco told The Jordan Times, referring to the SuperAdobe technique used in the project.

SuperAdobe is a form of earth bag architecture developed by architect and CalEarth founder Nader Khalili. Using long sandbags, barbed wire, on-site earth and a few simple tools, the revolutionary building system has been published by NASA and endorsed by the United Nations, according to online sources.

Link to Arch Daily 2018 Building of the Year Awards

CalEarth in VOGUE!

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“Forced displacement from war or persecution is one of humanity’s great challenges in the 21st century,” says Kathryn Mahoney, Senior Communications Officer for the UN’s refugee agency. “It’s not about to go away any time soon and those who are affected desperately need our help..."READ MORE

Going back to the basics- Earth Architecture in Kenya


Daily Nation, February 8, 2018 (Kenya)

“The US and South America have re-energised the use of earth as an architectural building component through earthbag housing technology. Architect Nader Khalili of the California Institute of Earth Architecture (CalEarth Institute) has dedicated a lot of resources to re-introducing earthbag houses to the US and the rest of the world..." 

Playground in Zanzibar

CalEarth Alumni Quintin Christian is hard at work with another amazing project. This time it is a playground in Fumba Town Eco City in Zanzibar, Tanzania. 

Christian and his team trained people from the local community in Zanzibar, including a large group of women. 

The playground consists of a barazza for parents to relax while they watch their children (it will eventually be covered with shading), in front of that is a fish pond and the central area is a sandpit (they are planting a large tree there for shade).  It also has a kiosk for drinks and snacks and the domes are play areas that shelter children from the harsh sun and have loads of holes they can climb in for fun.

Christian worked together with @ecodomesafrica @frankogreen and @permaculture_zanzibar on this project and had the president of Tanzania visit the project and were very impressed with the technology. 

Domes in Madagascar!

Thanks to the magic of the internet and social media we recently discovered this amazing Eco Dome in Madagascar. We posted it on instagram and the builder found us and sent us more photos and details about the project. Here are some highlights: 

2012: French architect Rebecca Pelayo hears about the superadobe building technology

2013: Pelayo trains with one of Nader Khalili's former students, Paulina Wojciechowska, in the UK and then created the Genius Ecodomus Association 

2014: Pelayo returns to her motherland of Madagascar and organizes a workshop with 10 volunteers, building the domes in just 30 days. The two domes are 16.5 feet and 14 feet in diameter, for a total area of 375 sq. ft.

2015-2017: 2 years of strong rainy seasons, earthquakes, ant attacks, consecutive tests of coating based on banana juice, zebu dung ... before finding the ideal final plastering, a mixture of hydraulic lime and iron oxide.

2017: Today Pelayo is working on additional projects in Mauritania and Madagascar. We will provide updates when they are available. According to Pelayo, "the ecodome welcomes yogi groups, artists, travelers from all horizon, and sometimes bees."

Superadobe Online Workshop Series

Hello CalEarth friends! We have so much exciting news to share.

After many months of work we are thrilled to announce our Superadobe Online Workshop Series. For those looking for hands-on demonstrations and lectures, this 12-part video series includes nearly 7 hours of classes. This package includes the Intro to Superadobe Course, the Plasters & Finishes Course (also sold individually) along with 7 additional lessons and 3 plasters demonstration videos not available for individual purchase. Click to read more and download or stream the class instantly from your computer or mobile device. 

Cal-Earth at the MoMA in New York

Last month I had a surreal experience. I was invited to the opening night of a new exhibit at the MoMA in NYC entitled "Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter" which featured powerful images of refugees and refugee camps. To see my fathers work up there on the wall of solutions for shelter was truly an honor. These past 8 years running Cal-Earth Institute with my brother Dastan Khalili and our team has been challenging in so many ways, but this moment was a reminder that our father's vision to create solutions for shelter is immensely important and I am honored to carry that vision forward. 

-Sheefteh Khalili

CalEarth part of upcoming MoMA exhibit in New York-- Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter


NEW YORK, May 5, 2016—The ways in which architecture and design have addressed contemporary notions of shelter, as seen through migration and global refugee emergencies, will be explored in the exhibition Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter, on view at The Museum of Modern Art from October 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. Bringing together works by architects, designers, and artists in a range of mediums and scales that respond to the complex circumstances brought about by forced displacement, the exhibition focuses on conditions that disrupt conventional images of the built environment as an arbiter of modernity and globalization. The prevalence of shelters and refugee camps calls into question the “safety” that they represent. Insecurities is organized by Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, with Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art. 

Recent United Nations figures suggest that 67.2 million individuals worldwide are refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons. Where borders once marked the peripheries of nations, today, manifold territories on sea and land have blurred one’s potential confinement within spaces that are determined by external powers. Under these conditions, shelter has been redefined through constant movement or escape. By extension, refugee camps, while once considered to be temporary, are no longer so, and have become a locus through which to examine how human rights intersect with and complicate the making of cities. 

Insecurities brings together a range of objects, including the jointly-designed IKEA Foundation-UNHCR-Better Shelter modular emergency structure, along with works by Estudio Teddy Cruz, Henk Wildschut, and Tiffany Chung, among others. Insecurities raises questions regarding how the design and representation of shelter as a source of security and stability ultimately reflects how refugees are living in permanent upheaval today. 

Insecurities is part of Citizens and Borders, a series of discrete projects at MoMA related to works in the collection offering a critical perspective on histories of migration, territory, and displacement.