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What Desert Living Can Teach Designers About Building in Urban L.A.

A visit to Cal-Earth in Hesperia leads aspiring environmental designer Daniel Ebuehi to examine how some aspects of desert living could translate to an urban environment.
March 18, 2014, 9am PDT | melaniecj
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What would be the benefit of adapting the concept of desert living at Hesperia’s California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) to urban Los Angeles?  

That is what aspiring environmental designer Daniel Ebuehi tried to determine during a recent visit to the compound.

The institute’s rounded domes in a desert setting felt familiar to Ebuehi.

“’This looks just like the village I visited with my brother and dad in Guinea, Africa, a few years back”’– I said to myself as I started the tour. There were varied residential conceptual-looking habitable structures spread out over the desert land in Hesperia, CA. So, I began to let the inner child out and explore these somewhat familiar buildings.”

The property included 100-square foot domes, ecologically-friendly landscaping, and a sustainable house made of adobe tube rolls.

“I thought to myself the inside spaces of some of these shell structures are what priceless stories are made of. And speaking of structure, each building (of the shell forms) are based on the simplicity and effectiveness of arch shapes in both moderating loads as well as expressing simple forms that seem to fully engage their natural surroundings.”

“Forms, in this case wooden formwork, can be seen at the site and are part of the demonstrations that go on during tours.  These forms help transform the simple arch shapes into shells like domes and barrel vaults which define habitable spaces. As I kept exploring, I started feeling personally gratified at having taken the risk to deviate from my usual Saturday routine (organizing bills, running errands, etc.) to truly be captivated within adorably iconic, yet affordable, buildings (for most, in some cases).”

In the article, Ebuehi goes on to talk about various speakers at the event and discuss how some of the ideas for architecture and design used in building the Cal-Earth structures could be incorporated to what is built in urban Los Angeles. 

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Published on Monday, March 10, 2014 in UrbDeZine
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