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Building to Benefit the Muslim World
Dawn Danby, 21 Dec 04

sandbag05web.jpg Among the winners of this year's Aga Khan Awards for Architecture was the development of Sandbag Shelter Prototypes, developed by Iranian architect Nadar Khalili. As a founder of the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, his structures take on a new meaning when pulled out of California and placed in a refugee scenario:

"After extensive research into vernacular earth building methods in Iran, followed by detailed prototyping, [Khalili] has developed the sandbag or ‘superadobe’ system. The basic construction technique involves filling sandbags with earth and laying them in courses in a circular plan. The circular courses are corbelled near the top to form a dome. Barbed wire is laid between courses to prevent the sandbags from shifting and to provide earthquake resistance. Hence the materials of war – sandbags and barbed wire – are used for peaceful ends, integrating traditional earth architecture with contemporary global safety requirements."

Through its 26-year history, the Aga Khan awards have recognized architectural initiatives that benefit Muslims. They always manage to honour a real diversity of scale, and their scope is truly global: honourees range from refugee housing projects such as these to modern masterpieces like Jean Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. "Particular attention is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in an innovative way, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere." (We've written about a similar spirit when applied to shelter, as seen in Cameron's ongoing work with Architecture for Humanity). Besides mosque construction and conservation efforts, other award winners include replicable building systems, a housing scheme developed by the Grameen Bank (a well-known microcredit org), and initiatives by Barefoot Architects.

The Aga Khan Foundation also funds MIT's ArchNet, which hosts an online archive of more than 7000 nominees, a collection of the late Hassan Fathy's drawings, as well as images of islamic architecture all over the globe.

(partly) via BB

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Hi Dawn,

Thanks for the link. Nader and I were also mentioned together in the NY Times magazine in an article called Gimme Temporary Shelter.

In the next few days I'll put up some of the prototype housing developed for Sudan by my studio @ MSU. One of the designers used a similar approach utilizing humanitarian grain sacks.

What most people don't realize about Naders' design is that it originated from a project he work on for potential lunar housing for a project for NASA back in the day.

Posted by: Cameron Sinclair on 21 Dec 04

Very cool, D.

Side note: is the "Barefoot [insert profession name here]" meme spreading, or is it just me?

What do folks think of the usage?

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 22 Dec 04

Your way overthinking things.

You need something cheap and uber portable by transport plane..

Something with very few parts that requires no skill to put together.

We already have them only in a slightly smaller size.

Plastic dog houses.

Because they have no floor and are a thin shell of cheapo plastic( recycled paper and plastic work fine) they stack very very well and as they are just pressed cheaply they cost very little to make.

You could prolly fit a few thousand on a plane. And if made cheaply in china you could prolly get em in mass for less then 10 bucks each.

Posted by: wintermane on 22 Dec 04



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