California Eco Homes Double As Moon Units

Nader Khalili's affordable and eco-friendly ceramic, domed homes could one day house the first settlers on the Moon.

The Iranian-born, California-based architect's designs build upon elemental materials—earth, water, and fire—and their remarkably simple construction rely only on basic architectural forms, such as arches and domes. Once the structure is secured, the interior of the dome is kiln-fired, which seals the inside with a thick terracotta crust.

"To me it's obvious to use earth as a building block," Khalili tells AFP. "I don't consider that I have invented anything at all. "All the Mediterranean civilizations used earth or natural materials in their architecture."Besides having his work recognized by the United Nations, Khalil is also regularly invited to give presentations to NASA about the possibilities of using his designs, which cost US$3,200 each to build, for lunar colonies. Because transporting thousands of tonnes of heavy materials from the Earth to the Moon isn't feasible, says Khalil, raising buildings from lunar soil presents an attractive alternative.

Some of Khalil's designs can even withstand earthquakes—primarily, he says, because all his houses rely on the arch. " The traditional shape of a square house with vertical walls is almost designed to fall over one day. With an arch nothing collapses," Khalil says.

In fact, local authorities in earthquake-prone California recently approved Khalil's larger, more-elaborate homes, known as "superadobes" after the first terracotta homes built by Spanish settlers to the state. The structures, which are naturally air-conditioned because of strategically placed openings in the walls, can be completed by three people within a week for around US$90,000.

On a humbler scale, mini-domes based on Khalili's designs were constructed to house people made homeless by the earthquakes in Iran in 2003 and Pakistan in 2005. "Imagine a world where every refugee has a roof over their head—that hardly costs anything," Khalili says. :: AFP

Tags: California | Nasa