UPDATE Jan 2009:
It's being lived in! - thanks to Donna Stratman for keeping me in the loop. Email her: email@example.com
I nearly fell off my chair.
In Hawaii, I was surfing, er, the internet that is, looking for ideas for my little piece of land on the Big Island.
I stumbled upon this man planning to build a 'SuperAdobe' house designed by the famed Cal Earth architect Nader Khalili - in the Nanawale Estates subdivision, right where my land is!
The only problem is, on closer investigation it appears the permits were rejected twice back in January 2007 - but the owner is going ahead anyway. I am feverishly hoping there's been an update. It makes sense, especially in Hawaii where the sun and rain are free, sustainability should be the default and yet, 92% of the state's energy consumption is fossil fuel based. If it was volcano-based it would be perfect, but Chevron et al don't seem to be sticking their long snakey hoses down that hole yet.
Cal-earth's statement "Using minimum material to build maximum structures, and recycling" - buried on their products page - resonated with me like nothing else, for a very, very long time.
Nader Khalili>> I think it's human rights. I think it should
be part of our constitution of this country that human shelter
is just a right, just like the human right for government, for
freedom, for food. Human right for shelter. - from this interview
Saul Gonzalez>> The essence of Khalili's architecture is
simplicity itself. Make a hole and start packing the earth into
long tubular sandbags which you then begin stacking together,
attaching them with barbed wire. He calls the process Super
Nader Khalili>> "That's one of the reasons I believe so much
homelessness exists in the world because half of the population
of the world is pushed aside."
Saul Gonzalez>> Tired of the competitive rat race, Khalili who
once designed skyscrapers walked away from a successful
architectural career more than twenty-five years ago. He says
philosophically his designs now are about rediscovering the
architectural wisdom of the past and erasing the border between
our built and un-built environments.
And here's the bit that most interested me ...
Saul Gonzalez>> Like a proud father, Khalili shows off the
features of one of his designs, a four hundred square foot home
built for about ten thousand dollars.
In days of old when men were bold, the tribe would settle somewhere and immediately set to work helping each other build shelter - then they got on with life. Fast forward to our modern day, and people enslave themselves for 65 years, 60-70 hours a week, to pay off that modern day thatch roof - and then continue to pay for the privilege in the form of property tax (USA system) and other costs.
It's insane. It's just shelter. I like the Hawaiian homelands philosophy - piece of land to live on that you lease for $1 a year, pass it down, but you can never sell it at a gouge-worthy price. If everyone had a little spot to live like that, perhaps there'd be less war.
These houses probably look to some like 'hippie houses'. They'll probably be lumped together with my friend Dan Price, the Man in the Hole and others who reject the Mc Mansion or bland box sold at exorbitant rates as 'cute fixer uppers' and 'dream dwellings' and even pretentious gentrifications.
I'm no hippie, I'm a failed hippie. But, just like I ride a strange bicycle because it works - you can take it wherever you go and ride it till you're 90 (you can get your leg over the damn thing) - these SuperAdobe houses simply provide everything a human being really needs in a shelter and nothing more. Because what more do you need in a house?
Hm, I hope there's a spot for the internet satellite dish.
And I just hope they adapt well to the termite and rain problem Hawaiian houses suffer ...
If not, I'm sure there are alternatives, if only these Building Code Nazis would see the light.
Giant sewer pipe condo, anyone?
My postage stamp size piece of land on Hawaii (#15), site for a future house where I can invite all the Bike Friday customers and friends who've put me up in their homes over the years ... more Galfromdownunder in Hawaii