Cal Earth

Earth One: Vaulted House Design

The 3-Vaulted house prototype has been in development since the mid-1980's by Nader Khalili to allow the maximum space, light, and interior ventilation, while using the traditional form of the vault. The spaciousness of the interior design derives from this pattern of 3 offset vaults which allow a maximum view through the house's open plan area, and from the height of the vault. The 3-vault system can be combined with domes and apses, or repeated back to back to form a variety of aesthetic and efficiently planned house designs.

A prototype 3-Vaulted house has been tested and approved for California's severe earthquake codes and natural elements, in the harsh climate of the Mojave desert (over 100 degree F summer temperatures, freezing winters, flash floods, high speed wind, and the highest US earthquake zone 4). The universality of the material and design has caused these houses to be considered for the moon and Mars by NASA scientists interested in in-situ utilization of planetary resources.

Learning and building an Earth One Home

Earth One is the prototype three-bedroom Superadobe house at Cal-Earth.

Some features of the Earth One house and 3-vaulted designs are:

  1. View through depth of two vaults increases a sense of interior space.
  2. The offest vaults eliminate the need for corridors.
  3. Simple design based on repetition of the single vault design unit simplifies construction.
  4. More vaults can be added at a later time.
  5. Variety can be introduced through the placement of windows and other small elements such as niches.
  6. Arches and vaults are inherently beautiful, especially if repeated in a series.
  7. A two storey wind-scoop faces prevailing summer breezes for cooling.
  8. The vaulted curve of the roof, combined with the sun's path overhead, creates sun and shade zones which encourage circular air movement inside the house.
  9. Play of light and shadow minimizes the need for decoration.
  10. Designed with the sun, shade and wind for passive cooling and heating.
  11. The combination fireplace and wind-scoop enhances both heating and cooling functions.
  12. Can be integrated with conventional interior framing, fittings, and finishes.


  • The Earth One plan is a part of the Cal-Earth educational and research program. It is an educational construction document developed to be used in conjuction with the Cal-Earth apprenticeship course.
  • All plans and construction must be confirmed with local building and safety departments and prevailing local codes. Cal-Earth Institute, architect Nader Khalili, and their representatives and officers are not responsible for product defects, the actions or effects of individuals who build from these plans or follow it's instructions. Builders are expected to use commonsense, caution, safety precautions appropriate to a construction site, and all necessary protection to persons and property.
  • Superadobe Technology, U.S. patent #5,934,027, has been tested on individual domes and vaults (1993-1996) for the City of Hesperia, California, Building and Safety Department, in consultation with I.C.B.O. These structures passed the California required codes.
  • Superadobe/sandbag technology has been patented in the United States and overseas, to protect the innovator's right to make it freely available to the needy of the world and to the owner-builder, and to license it for commercial use.


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Cal-Earth Inc. / Geltaftan Foundation | Hesperia, California

Superadobe technology was designed and developed by architect Nader Khalili and Cal-Earth Institute, and engineered by P.J. Vittore. Superadobe is a patented system (U.S. patent #5,934,027) freely put at the service of humanity and the environment. Licensing is required for commercial use.

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