We have just concluded the first 21st Century Sandbag Earth-Dome in Cyprus, using a method that was inspired by the master builder and philanthropist architect, Nader Khalili. This particular method of constructing earth domes, has been developed by Nader thirty years ago, and manages to connect the old element with the new. Sandbag earth dome houses combine the old traditions of earth houses, built for centuries all around the world, along with the innovative technologies of the 21st century.
This 10-day seminar took place at Petrera Permaculture Land, at Kalo Horio Orinis, and was a co-organization of the coordinating team of Petrera land, along with the Cyprus volunteer team, Movement of Life Cyprus and the non-profit foundation New Earth UK. The seminar was possible thanks to the support of our generous sponsors: Vasilis Kyprianou and his organic farm Riverland Bio Dairy Farm, Evis Sophokleous and his organic health food store Viocultura, M&M Printings company, and the teams: Anakyklos Perviallontiki and Utopia Collectiva, for their support and contribution on operational means for the realization of this workshop.
The teaching team of our workshop consisted of three representatives of New Earth UK foundation: Our main instructor, Iliona Outram Kalili, an architect and master builder in earth architecture, and her two colleagues, much promising upcoming earth architects: Tommaso Bazzechi and Andreas Athanasi.
Through this seminar, the participants had the chance to learn all the practical steps of building a natural dome, using as our only materials: our earth, sandbags, and barbed wire. This technique has been developed initially by Nader’s foundation as a means of offering emergency shelters to war and natural disaster refugees, since the result is a solid earth dome, providing for the maximum safety and demanding the minimum time, cost and skills to be built.
It is therefore mind-blowing, how with this method, we are able to transform war materials, sandbags and barbed wire, into peace materials that will provide us with a shelter, a healing space, a home.
In the duration of this workshop, the participants had the chance to build together an earth dome of 3 meter diameter, and 3.5 meter height, from foundations to top. Apart from the practical sessions, New Earth UK’s teaching team was constantly sharing with the participants of the course, important theory guidance on earth architecture, the importance of correct design and synergy &co-operation with the elements of nature, and other essential segments of natural building.
What the participants were able to absorb from this interactive workshop, extended beyond the technical knowledge on earth domes. During these ten days of symbiosis and collective work, each and every one of the participants had the chance to connect, in their own way, with the element of earth and with more natural work and living patterns. Through this collective seminar, participants were able to fully comprehend the magnitude of team-work. Such a natural building technique, not only provides us with the resilience tools of building our own shelter with cheap available natural materials, but it eventually provides us with the opportunity to free ourselves from the boundaries of the super-consumerism society and super-fast lives we lead on in the city landscape.
A chance therefore to re-examine our relationship with nature, and everything that is so lavishly offered to us by our natural environment. A push, to strive for resilience and independence through claiming beautiful and safe living spaces, something that every person on this planet should hold as their basic human right.
As the Iranian philanthropist architect, Nader Khalili, stated it beautifully:
“Every man and woman is a doctor and a builder – to heal and shelter themselves”
*Find out more information about this natural building technique through Iliona Khalili’s presentation, as performed in Cyprus, on December 2014 at the Architectural Department of the University of Nicosia.