Urban Earth Architecture

In 2009 I had the opportunity to go to Rochester, NY to build an emergency shelter eco-dome. Our group consisted of Iliona Khalili, Metin Vargonen, Jessica Edmond, and myself. We worked with high risk inner city children and teens who were attending the Freedom School’s summer program. The purpose of this workshop was to open their eyes to the opportunities that earth architecture can provide for them, while beginning to give them the skills that they can use as a trade to support themselves.


The shell of the dome, with the door forms in place.

Adobe earth architecture uses the timeless principles of nature to create structures that are practically indestructible. They are hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, and flood proof. They also withstood the most stringent California earthquake tests and were the first building technology tested to actually break the testing equipment.


Metin and the dome two rows past the window forms.


From left to right, Yusuf, Jessica, Metin, Iliona, and a youth leader of the Freedom School.

It was a very profound experience to work with the children at the Freedom School, as well as their instructors and mentors. The children possess an energy that is extremely constructive and has the potential to do enormous good for the world, unfortunately their environments aren’t exactly the best to develop that. With direction, support, and love, they really show potential for overcoming the negativity that they are faced with on a daily basis. This is perhaps the most important effect of working with them, even more so than passing on technical knowledge. It is the opportunity to show them a different way of life, one in which they can be proud of their accomplishments and in turn, help others who have yet to be touched by such positivity.

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