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Usually, when we?re heading into the desert, it?s for frozen margaritas and outlet shopping. But we?ve happened on a sandy destination that?s stimulating our do-gooder impulses: Cal-Earth

This seven-acre encampment 100 miles east of Los Angeles is a village of domed structures that resemble something a Middle Eastern bedouin might call home. But it?s the testing ground for prototype homeless shelters--the life?s work of the late architect Nader Khalili

Iranian-born Khalili built skyscrapers in Los Angeles and taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture early in his career. But during a trip through the Iranian desert in the ?70s, he envisioned housing that could be made by needy peoples using what they have at hand. The result was his Superadobe structure, a dome made from oblong plastic bags filled with dirt and stabilized with barbed wire. Today Superadobes dot the grounds of Cal-Earth. 

You can visit the site during a free monthly open house, schedule a private tour ($50) or even sign up for a four-day workshop ($1,100) in which you learn to build your own Superadobe.

We?re not sure we can get a permit, but we?re thinking a Superadobe might just be the place for visiting in-laws over the holidays. 

Cal Earth, 10177 Baldy Ln., Hesperia; 760-956-7533 or

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