Dome Building Systems Design

The dome building workshops are focused on teaching you both structure and materials. With this understanding you will have few limits what you can build at home. There is a synergy among design and materials that we teach to give you freedom to create to your hearts desire.

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A building system for a home compound and an eco-village

We teach 3 distinctly different types of dome. An insulated concrete dome which is ideal for everything from a home to a bunker is our primary focus. The greenhouse dome as an amazing transition space from indoors to outdoors. Ideal for everything from a patio, a large aquaculture food production system, or as a huge solar heater for cold climates. The tent domes are big buildings you can put in the back of a pickup truck. They are ideal for setting up a base camp in a day in remote region, for throwing a huge party (see burning man). It's a novel way to do construction out of the weather buy building a dome in a dome.

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Because we have limited class days we keep the domes small to get to a more finished stage in the time we have, but when you understand the principles there isn't much in limits to size. We like a modular approach with individual room domes to make up a larger house. These cabins are great single use rooms. Master bed and bath, kitchen, living room, office or with a loft a great mother in law can easily be made from these structures. This makes for an expandable pay as you go home building system.

Below an example of a smaller 3.5 meter (11.5 foot) dome cabin

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Why domes?
The very shape of the dome does "more with less"

We start by changing the shape of the typical flat box house to a spherical shape, the dome. A dome has less 30% less surface area (materials), to enclose the same volume of space then the box. But there is even more benefit to a spherical shape. By changing the shape we dramatically improve the strength so we can lower the amount of materials even more and still be very strong. A cylinder is 7 times stronger then flat material. Think of a beer can, a very light weight structure to carry a liquid and withstands pressure. You won’t see cubed shape beer cans (or submarines) anytime soon ;-) But the sphere is 13 times stronger for the same material then the flat sides of the box. An arch (a section of a hemisphere) is the strongest form in architecture. A dome is simply a rotated arch. So if you want strong in an earthquake or other natural disasters, or to save money then the dome is the way to go, it is the future.

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Save money and gain strength by putting the house on a serious diet

The typical house with wood frame, composite roof and concrete slab weighs about 200 pounds per square foot. So a 2,000 square foot one story house weighs about 400,000 pounds (200 tons). Block or cast concrete buildings, with title roofs even heavier. Our concrete domes weigh in about 40 pounds per square foot. It's not hard to imagine some cost savings at 80% of that materials weight saved. This is not only great for your pocket book to avoid purchasing (and shipping) all that extra mass it's also great for the environment. Live lightly so others can simply live. Further a lighter structure doesn't tear itself apart like a heavy structure does in an earthquake, so less is better. Our insulation concrete is so light it floats.

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A normal house is structurally inferior compared to a boat

Coming from a boatbuilding background, we make very strong structures. We don't accept that your own home could become a danger to you and your family in an earthquake or other natural disaster. Modern architecture is largely a "house of cards", it doesn't take much earth movement to fall down. But think of a boat or a ship bouncing around the ocean for years. That vessel aground would easily survive an massive earthquake that would knock a city to the ground. So we can make a shelter very strong and lightweight, but it requires a different way of building.

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Build locally

We are not stuck on a single building material. What you build with depends on your regions material availability, your budget, preference and climate. So we teach a number of building materials and building technologies to get to an affordable and strong home for your area. We also take in account building code you have to deal with when you go home.