November 2010 Volume V
Emergency Shelter Research and Development
A Note From Dastan Khalili & Sheefteh Khalili
One of the most important aspects of the work we do at Cal-Earth is our focus on emergency shelter design. Our father, Nader Khalili, always reminded his students that there are over a billion people in the world with inadequate shelter, and he spent his life looking for a way for these people to be able to build themselves a home. Cal-Earth’s mission is guided by three principles: (1) shelter is a basic human right, (2) every human being should be able to build a house for themselves and their family, and (3) the best way to provide shelter for the exponentially increasing human population is by building with earth.
In a refugee camp or after a natural disaster, a home can be something as simple as a place to find shelter from rain, sun, wind, and even bullets. By building with Superadobe, we have found that even the most basic, unstabilized shelters, can provide this protection. Many years ago our father began experimenting with building emergency shelters to see how quickly and easily it could be done by untrained builders. A film was created, along with a 2-page basic building guide to serve as instant building tools when disaster strikes.
We have re-created this emergency shelter build on many occasions as a teaching tool for students to see a structure literally go up before their eyes, and to show them the simplicity and accessibility of this work. During the September workshop, we decided to re-visit the emergency shelter build with group of 20 untrained students. These students, led by a few trained instructors, were able to build a 7 foot shelter using small sandbags (standard size that is found throughout the world) in only 8 hours. We estimated that if the same group built a second shelter of the same size, (after having gained the experience of building the first) it would take approximately half the time. We plan to continue this emergency shelter build throughout the upcoming workshop season until we feel confident that we have developed the simplest and most efficient building technique. We are planning to create a new film on how to build an emergency shelter and to translate our basic building guide into as many languages as possible. It is our hope that this building technique can become a sustainable solution to human shelter throughout the world.
Sheefteh Khalili, Chief Financial Officer
Dastan Khalili, President