A few years ago I reported on a curious eco-training center on Lake Chapala’s south shore called Igloo Kokolo which looks, more than anything, like a Smurf village.
Here I was introduced to superadobe houses, solar showers, dry toilets, bicycle-operated blenders, recycled waste-water and ingenious techniques for living off the grid.
“Igloo Kokolo,” I was told by its owners, Salvador “Chava” Montaño and his wife Jessica Romero, “is really a place for experimentation in alternative ways to live in equilibrium with our environment ... and with the creatures we find in it. We are learning through doing, and sharing what we are learning.”
The Montaños’ creation, I felt, was a marvelous example of teaching by deeds rather than by words, but I wondered whether it was going to survive economically, because its income came principally from ecologically oriented people taking training courses along with “glamping” enthusiasts who had discovered the place on Airbnb and wanted the experience of spending a night in a warm igloo.
The egg-shaped superadobe house was developed by Iranian-born architect Nader Khalili, founder of Cal-Earth, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture. Troubled by the ever-growing problem of refugee housing, Khalili searched long and hard for inexpensive building material and construction techniques that anyone could master.