Fired Ceramic Houses: A Sustainable Solution to Human Shelter

by Sheila A. Menzies
Tile Heritage Foundation
Photo by Jeff Joseph, Los Angeles, California

Have you ever considered the possibility of creating a totally clay dwelling? There are many people engaged in this practice today thanks to an inspired and creative individual - the late Nader Khalili.
Nader Khalili (1936-2008) is the world-renowned Iranian-American architect, author, humanitarian, teacher, and innovator of the Geltaftan Earth-and-Fire system known as Ceramic Houses and of the Superadobe construction system. Founder and director of the Geltaftan Foundation (1986) and Cal-Earth, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (1991) in Hesperia, California, Khalili received his philosophy and architectural education in Iran, Turkey and the United States. His sustainable solutions to human shelter have been published by NASA and awarded by the United Nations; he also received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, among numerous other honors.
The greatest costs of rebuilding after disasters, for instance, involve infrastructure and human shelter. The need is ever more urgent during emergencies to build self-help shelters that are sustainable, permanent structures more resistant to future disasters.
There is a Sustainable Solution to Human Shelter based on timeless materials (earth, water, air and fire) and timeless principles (arches, vaults and domes). Everyone should be able to build a shelter for his or her family with these universal elements almost anywhere on the earth. These principles, interpreted into the simplest form of building technology, have created emergency shelters, which have become permanent houses that have passed strict tests and building codes. Since 1975 the Cal-Earth Institute has been dedicated to researching and developing this low-cost, self-help, eco-friendly technology that can resist disasters, offering it to humanity. The only missing link is to educate humans on how to use these timeless techniques, developed at the Institute, to fit their own culture and environment.*
There are some inspiring videos on building Fired Ceramic Houses. Visit:
*Excerpted from The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture

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