` Bucky would have loved it — imaginary family values

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I dare say this is one of the most significant innovations in construction since the geodesic dome.

As you may already know, rock, brick, concrete, and similar materials are strong under compression but weak under tension; metal, by contrast, is strong under tension but weak under compression. Thus, in a building whose structural walls are made of concrete, metal rebar might be used to provide tensile strength.

Nader Khalili patented a building system that works along similar lines, but instead of concrete, he used sandbags, and instead of rebar, he used barbed wire. You presumably can’t build a skyscraper with these materials, but by arranging them in domes and then plastering them over, a team of semi-skilled workers can make single-story buildings—small, medium, or large—that meet California’s standards for earthquake safety.

I would kvell to learn how to make a house like this, but it looks like the only place that teaches the technique is in California, and the alumni are either themselves in California or have moved even farther afield.


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