This book is a synthesis of the Iranian architect Nader Khalili’s story and life work, Cal-Earth, and my own family’s history of immigration from Iran. Nader Khalili loved the poetry of Persian mystic Rumi, much of which he translated into English. Rumi’s work largely focuses on humanity and the elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, which directly connects to Khalili’s sustainable earth architecture. Khalili draws elements from classical ancient persian architecture, such as the dome and the arch, preserving old custom with new technology. Khalili’s story of immigration takes place years before my family’s, years before the Iranian Revolution. He migrated to the United States in pursuit of education, whereas mine came on refugee status. Both left the Iranian capital of Tehran to settle in the diverse Californian landscape. As a child, I visited my Baba Bezorg and Ammu Bezorg’s house every Friday night. I remember looking through my Grandmother’s persian books, seeing the very same swirling script letters as the ones in this book. I can taste the hot darjeeling tea and the lingering fenugreek and saffron from her food. Though my family has lived in this country for several decades, the stories and culture they came with have not faded away. They have fused them with their new life to take on new shape and color, merging the old traditions of their homeland with the modernity of their adopted one, much like the clay domes Khalili built.
Selection of images from the book: