Iranian-born architect, Nader Khalili, now working in California’s seismic zone urged his fellow Iranians to try his “superadobe” building technique, using sandbags and barbed wire, in rebuilding the 2,000 year old quake-flattened city of Bam.
Among the commended entries in the ar+d 2003 architecture awards is a prototype distillery made of stabilized adobes for a small town in the impoverished semi-desert region of Venezuela. The roof is made with mud and cocuy fibre (a sort of sisal) supported by poles that bear on the mud walls. The project was designed by Rafael Mattar Neri.
A devastating earthquake virtually leveled the historic heart of Bam which was one of the wonders of Iran’s cultural heritage, boasting a 2000-year-old citadel that was the largest mud-brick structure in the world. Built entirely of mud bricks, clay, straw and the trunks of palm trees, the city’s old quarter dates from pre-Islamic times, although most of the monuments were from Iran’s modern heyday under the Safavid rulers of the 16th and 17th centuries. 20,000 feared dead in the collapse of buildings in the city.
Photos of Bam pre-2003 earthquake:
Photo of Bam post-2003 earthquake:
Cornerstones Community Partnerships, a Santa Fe-based non-profit organization, works primarily with rural Hispanic villages and Indian Pueblos in New Mexico and the southwest to restore historic structures. It encourages traditional building techniques and works to retain cultural heritage and foster civic pride through historic preservation. For the past seventeen years, Cornerstones has assisted over 300 rural Hispanic and Native American communities throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas in the restoration of their historic and cultural structures as a means for the preservation of the rich cultural heritage unique to this region. Over 50 major restoration projects, led by the community, have been successfully completed.
Faculty from the Department Architecture & Civil Engineering at the University of Bath are developing rammed earth walling for UK housing construction. Their site includes a photo gallery of historic and contemporary rammed earth (and rammed chalk) projects in the United Kingdom.
Local workers make mud bricks, dry them in the sun, and shape them into the walls of the experimental neolithic house. Watch the streaming video. The video is part of an archeological study of «atalhˆyuk, a Neolithic town from 9,000 years ago, located in modern-day Turkey. «atalhˆyuk means ‘forked mound’ and refers to the site’s east and west mounds, which formed as centuries of townspeople tore down and rebuilt the settlement’s mud-brick houses. No one knows what the townspeople called their home 9,000 years ago.
We asked the pros what they use in the construction of rammed earth walls. The answer was the Jet-2T Sand Rammer Backfill Tamper. The rammer, traditionally used in foundries to compact sand for casting., is pneumatically powered and has a rubber butt, which is replaceable. The best deal we have found on the internet is at Southern Tool for $596.67.
The New York Earth Room, 1977, is the third Earth Room sculpture executed by artist Walter de Maria, the first being in Munich, Germany in 1968. The second was installed at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, Germany in 1974. The first two works no longer exist. The New York Earth Room has been on long-term view to the public since 1980. This work was commissioned and is maintained by Dia Art Foundation and is an interior earth sculpture comprised of 250 cubic yards of earth (197 cubic meters) over 3,600 square feet of floor space (335 square meters) with a 22 inch depth of material (56 centimeters). The total weight of the sculpture is 280,000 lbs. (127,300 kilos).
Iranian born Nader Khalili, California architect/author is the world renowned Earth Architecture teacher and innovator, and author. He has been a licensed architect in the State of California since 1970, and has practiced both in the U.S. and abroad. Click here to visit Khalili’s website: Cal-Earth, The California Institute for Earth Art and Architecture.
His books, Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture: How to Build Your Own and Racing Alone document his life of searching for a method to fire mud houses and turn them to stone by firing and glazing an entire building after it is constructed from clay-earth on site.