As children, we took to the beach to build sand castles complete with towers, doorways, and moats. Once we grow up however, most of us tend to stop playing in the sand. There are a select few artists, still young at heart, that take part in sand building and blasting competitions, but their creations are not built to last long. However, one architectural institution called CalEarth decided to take the idea of sand sculpting and perfect the structural integrity to build houses.
CalEarth’s first development was constructed in the early 1990’s, vaults scaling 14 feet wide with walls 5 foot tall using individual sandbags on top of one another. Since then the company has evolved it’s design to stabilize the sandbags with plaster or pouring on a layer of earth from the building site. This line of sand-built homes are dubbed SuperAdobe Structures by the institute. The developers also have a shrew of other miscellaneous structures mixing in rice bags, bricks, and straw bale.
The most famous structure available from CalEarth is the EcoDome. This 400 sqare foot modular home has been featured on HGTV and several local news stations to the campus in California. The standard model comes with a kitchen, “bedwomb” and bathroom, though additional bedrooms can be arranged. Other models, such as the Earth One Vaulted House are designed to fit three bedrooms, a 2 car garage and even a fireplace into the living space. Due to the rounded dome ceilings as well as building materials, the structure is surprisingly energy efficient in circulating hot or cold air. These homes pass each and every building code and are permitted to be built just about anywhere!