Monolithic Dome home in Moscow, Russia. by http://www.monolithic.com
October is National Energy Awareness Month, and the movement toward environmentally friendly construction has been motivated by ethics, finances, the housing crisis, and ecological concerns. And a bit of fun.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
One of the most impressive beacons of sustainable design is the Monolithic Dome concept. Unlike geodesic domes, these are constructed as one large piece of concrete sprayed on an "Airform." (If you have childhood memories of paper mache-ing a balloon, that's the basic concept.)
Inflating the Airform (From "Dome Living" by David South with Freda Parker) by Monolithic Domes
In 1956, David South heard Buckminster Fuller talk about domes. Two decades of ruminating, researching and experimenting later, South and his brothers built their first Monolithic Dome in 1976. By 1979, South had a patent on it.
The rounded shape contributes to energy efficiency, typically saving about fifty percent on heating and cooling costs compared to a comparable conventional building. In addition, a Monolithic Dome uses the least amount of materials and requires the smallest surface area to enclose space. And it is virtually maintenance-free: no siding to paint, roofs to fix, or termites to exterminate.
In addition, Monolithic Domes have gotten the highest FEMA rating for safety. Remember the party trick of squeezing an egg with uniform pressure, but surprisingly it doesn't break? Spherical shapes are not only a comforting, feminine form (we all gestated in one!), they are also the strongest form in nature. I'll let you draw your own symbolic conclusions.
Dome of a Home by Dome of a Home
Mark and Valerie Sigler's "Dome of a Home" in Pensacola FL survived Hurricane Ivan in 2004 (as well as hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in 2005) when other structures nearby were destroyed. Their book "Building in the Danger Zone" is available free at http://www.domeofahome.com.
Airformed concrete domes are almost indestructible, and can withstand over 300 mph winds, storm surges, termites, fires, and earthquakes.
Domes seem to inspire creativity and imagination. The magical Hobbit House of Montana is a dome home retreat that is built into the side of a hill, and features Bilbo Baggins' house and a statue of Gandolf on the grounds, along with an elven village and fairy houses. Only grownups allowed!
Hobbit House of Montana by hobbithouseofmontana.com
Elven Village at the Hobbit Home of Montana by hobbithouseofmontana.com
David South has designed economical, 314 square feet dome units that can be used as "cabins in the woods," rental units, or efficient replacement housing after natural disasters.
"The Inn Place" rental units in Brenham, TX by From "Dome Living" by David South