Ceramic Dome: Tagore. Earth Architecture Workshop

“The time has come

to step out from the womb of a pot

into the space of our lives”

– architect Nader Khalili

15-30 November 2015, Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, INDIA.

Learn the Art of Ceramic Houses amid Tagore’s inspiring poetry and Bengal’s sacred terracotta architecture. Take this chance to serve humanity through the arts of masonry and ceramics. Your work will address some of the world’s most pressing problems of homelessness and environmental disaster, by building in harmony with nature using timeless principles and universally available materials. The process of building, firing, and financing a ceramic house relies on human knowledge and creativity rather than products. Experience hands-on research and teamwork, to empower you to pick up the earth under your feet, either in a remote village, or with hi-tech tools like 3-D printers, and build the dream structures of 21st century Eco-Villages.

If you dream of an architecture that is relevant now, pack your bags for two weeks and join this unique hands-on retreat.

The workshop is organised by Visvi-Bharati University for the Kala Bhavana students of fine arts, but there are a limited number of five places for students of New Earth UK. Participants from countries other than India are advised to register before October 30th, to be assured of getting the visa and travel arrangements in time.


Dates: 15th November, 2015 – 30th November, 2015

Duration: 14 days plus two days of Nandan Mela (art fair).

Location: Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, Birbhum, Bolpur, West Bengal 731235, India

Directions via Google maps

Contact New Earth UK: +44 (0)7454-466497 or email to newearthuk@gmail.com

Registration: use the Online Form, or email to newearthuk@gmail.com

Limited places available.

Tuition: $1,000 / £660 (limited student scholarships)

Simple accommodation (shared house with other participants) and meals are included on campus. Travel expenses excluded.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy

I woke up and saw that life was service

I acted and behold service was joy”

                             – Rabindranath Tagore

“Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture”

The art, sculpture and ceramics departments of Kala Bhavana (Institute of fine art ) of Visva Bharati University, are among the most renowned in India. The university, often called Santiniketan (meaning the abode of peace), was founded and developed by the Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. His life was portrayed by film maker Satyajit Ray in a 1961 documentary,  “Rabindranath Tagore”.

India is a country of high art and ancient traditions, including masonry and ceramics. Yet today these arts are being forgotten and superseded by a modernism that is out of tune with human nature and the traditional arts. The arts of ceramic masonry and terracotta sculpture have existed for centuries in Bengal, especially around Santiniketan, in the ancient methods from Vishnapur to Dinajpur, with a tradition of highly skilled masons.

The process of Ceramic Houses is based on the work of architect and humanitarian Nader Khalili, whose journey through the tradition of Iran, to the technology of the USA gave humanity this innovative technique in the 20th century. His first works fired entire houses and a 10 classroom school in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and continued in the USA thereafter, taking the technique to NASA in 1984 and aerospace industry research. Khalili’s later work with Iliona Outram Khalili from 1991-2008 established his futuristic Earth Architecture techniques as safe in earthquakes, floods, fires, and wind-storms, successfully passing tests and being permitted under the toughest seismic building codes in the world, in California.

In this workshop we explore new techniques, building upon the Ceramic Houses of architect Nader Khalili, for affordable building in India at Santiniketan near to Kolkata, India. Our long-term goal is to empower the common man to work with artisans, creating safe and beautiful buildings in harmony with human aspirations in art and soul. In the spirit of fusing tradition and technology, the workshop participants will learn with advanced Santiniketan students of art, ceramics and design. They will learn to build and fire a domed structure, an evolution of earlier Ceramic Houses techniques, in which the students’ ceramics sculptures and utilitarian products may be fired along with the dome itself.

The workshop ends at the time of Nandan Mela, an art orientated fair, which attracts international crowds to the university town on Dec. 1st and 2nd. The proposal that a homeowner, or village collective, can make products in one room which can be sold to raise money to build the next room will hopefully be tested as the ceramic products will be offered for sale to increase the Kala Bhavana school fund for needy students, during the Mela. Participants are welcome to stay on the extra days and experience this cultural event.

Ceramic Houses Photo Gallery