Nader Khalili, internationally renowned architect, author, and educator, passed away at the age of 72 on Wednesday, March 5th.
He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Hospital, of congestive heart failure. Khalili was known for his innovation into the Geltaftan Earth-and-Fire System known as Ceramic Houses and the SuperAdobe Construction (sandbag and barbed wire) technique also known as Earthbag. He developed his SuperAdobe technology in 1984, in response to a NASA call for designs for human settlements on the Moon and Mars. He had been involved with Earth Architecture and Third World Development since 1975, and was a U.N. consultant for Earth Architecture.
In 1991 he founded the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth), in Hesperia, CA, which teaches his SuperAdobe building technique. His sustainable solutions to human shelter have been published by NASA, and awarded by the United Nations, the Aga Khan award for Architecture, amongst others. (see http://www.calearth.org/, for more.)
He authored six books, including his international best-selling auto-biography, "Racing Alone," (his newest book "Emergency Shelter," available this summer) as well as two highly-acclaimed volumes translating the poetry of Rumi, "Fountain of Fire" and "Dancing the Flame."
Born in Iran as one of nine children, his quest was to empower the world's poor and refugees to build homes using the earth under their feet. He was a prominent American leader on the value of ethically based architecture, where the needs of the homeless are considered above all else.
Inspired by the mystical poetry of Rumi, (whose poems he studied and translated, from an early age) his architecture was distilled from the timeless principles of this universe and its timeless materials -- the elements of earth, water, air, and fire, and has been described as "Poetry crystallized into structure." Laura Huxley, Aldous Huxley's widow, called Khalili the "practical visionary."
He was a quiet hero and a gentle humanitarian, who wrote: "No one can prove there is a meaning to life. I must make my own life meaningful. That is all."
He is survived by his wife Iliona, son Dastan, daughter Sheefteh, eight brothers and sisters and extended family.
More photos of Calearth here.