Monolithic Bomb Shelters and Fallout Shelters

This home under construction. It was built in 1987 and  is truly a nuclear fallout shelter.  The earth cover goes to the top of the pipes.  For more information see the John Ayers article.

I keep hoping a day will come when we’re no longer thinking that we may need a bomb or fallout shelter. But it seems more and more likely that the need will occur before that day does.

Fly Ash Properties and Uses

Fly ash closely resembles volcanic ashes used in production of the earliest known hydraulic cements about 2,300 years ago. Those cements were made near the small Italian town of Pozzuoli – which later gave its name to the term pozzolan. A pozzolan is a siliceous/aluminous material that, when mixed with lime and water, forms a cementitious compound. Fly ash is the best known, and one of the most commonly used, pozzolans in the world.

Rebar: Bend or Don’t Bend?

To bend or not to bend? That is the question if you’re talking about bending reinforcing steel bars (rebar) that are partially embedded in concrete, as we do in the Monolithic Dome construction process.

The Perils of Selective Compliance

Several years ago a teacher in our school district decided to show the modern version of Last of the Mohicans as part of her literature class. The movie is R-rated and one of the students protested. She said that she and her family “never watched R-rated movies.”

Understanding Seismic Zones

US Geology Survey National Seismic Hazard Map —These maps are based on current information about the rate at which earthquakes occur in different areas and on how far strong shaking extends from earthquake sources. Colors on this particular map show the levels of horizontal shaking that have a 2 % chance of being exceeded in a 50 year period. Shaking is express as a percentage of g (g is the acceleration of a falling object due to gravity). Areas in red have a much higher likelihood than areas of white to be exceeded, for example.

To understand the Seismic Zoning method and how it pertains to the Monolithic Dome, we must first understand what effective peak ground acceleration means and how it is measured against gravity.

A Green Roof

We covered an EcoShell garage with a combination of trumpet vine and Lady Banks roses. First we planted only the roses. Vinyl rope was used for the climbing tool. The roses grew about 10’ before they started growing away from the dome. Then trumpet vines were added and tied to the roses, which helped the climbing effect. You can see the dome is almost completely covered.

Check out nature’s way of coating a dome by scrolling through the pictures. (Click the top image and scroll thru the images and captions.)  This unique way provides protection as well as beauty to the outside of your dome.

Underground Air Piping

It is a well known fact that if you get below the surface of the earth a few feet, the temperature tends to be very even and at a constant 55 to 60 degrees, depending on latitude. So, it does not take a genius to understand that if you could move outside air through a buried pipe, you could alter its temperature and then move it into a house where it can warm or cool the home’s interior.

Shotcrete vs. Gunite

If you want to start a fight, just ask a room full of spray concrete operators: What’s the best system for applying concrete?

Fire Safety in a Monolithic Dome or Any Home 

In Charca Casa, my home in Italy, Texas, I have installed a mini fire-hydrant inside an easily available, affordable kitchen cabinet.

Many years ago I decided I wanted a fire-suppression system in my home. I was not interested in fire extinguishers that may or may not work and seem always in the way. I wanted an actual, simple, but extremely effective water system. 

Peggy Atwood’s Monolithic Dome Construction Slideshow

In 2006 in Shokan, New York, work began on Peggy Atwood’s Monolithic Dome home, that has two intersecting sections: 40′ × 23′ and 30′ × 18′. Now Peggy has a slideshow of that construction – and a lot more. If you’ve ever wondered what all goes into the building of a dome-home, watch this slideshow. It begins with the clearing of the site to a completed, furnished, beautiful Monolithic Dome home.

An Option to Avoid with Stitched Seams

The Ecker dome-home — after the Airform was inflated, its perimeter was sprayed with leftover, two-part, closed cell foam. It’s clearly visible as a bright yellow band along the foundation.

You may find this article helpful if your Monolithic Dome Airform has any stitched seams and also has a barrier material, such as foam along the exterior terminal edge of the Airform.

An Engineer’s Aspect

Nanette South Clark, Manager of Engineering, shares her feelings on Joplin’s tragedy and America’s severe need for disaster-resistant homes, schools, hospitals, etc. She says, Monolithic Dome schools have actually been mostly funded by FEMA because they can be tornado shelters for entire communities. There is no reason that every town in “Tornado Alley” couldn’t have a Monolithic Dome Tornado Shelter. Yet people are so resistant to change (for the better even) that when it comes right down to it, many choose metal buildings and wood buildings because they don’t want something round in town…."  

The Energy Detective

The Energy Detective’s real time display is part of the package.  Right now this unit sits on my kitchen counter, but you can remove it from the dock and walk anywhere in the house with it.

The Energy Detective is a device that lets you monitor the electric usage of your home. I bought one to track the energy usage of my dome-home and windmill. I was very surprised to find so much power in such a small device. According to the manufacturer of The Energy Detective (TED), just knowing what your house is doing and taking small steps to avoid using so much will drop your power bill 13% on average.

Grow Domes Are the Future

This 280-foot-diameter dome has a floor area equal to 1.4 acres. Note the large entry doors. It’s the perfect building for growing food.

Monolithic Domes make the world’s best Grow Domes. We must have them to allow us to grow the food we need in the years ahead.

Thoughts on the bidding process for construction of new schools 

At a presentation to a school board, I ran into an interesting situation. One of the school board members said, “It is extremely important that we bid this project out.” He was inferring that if they selected a Monolithic Dome they wouldn’t be able to bid it. I explained that there were several people who could bid the Monolithic Dome and that every single piece of the construction of any school building had to be bid. On further reflection, I realized how fickle the bid process is.

Monolithic Domes: A Tornado Solution That Is A Secret!

Aerial image shows the swath the April 2011 tornado took, just glancing the Faith Chapel Campus.

Monolithic has been teaching, training, promoting and building these domes for 35 years. Some 4000 Monolithic Domes are in use, working and well proven in 52 countries and 49 American states. But they are still a secret!

A Combination Day/Night Dome-Home

I believe now is the time for Americans to rethink how we design and use our living areas. More specifically, I think we need small, easily and economically maintained  dome-homes in which the same space is used for both day and night activities – in other words, a space twofer! 

How to Restructure, Improve, Enhance a Country: Build Better!

When you first begin really looking into current living conditions worldwide, what you hear and read appears overwhelmingly staggering – a situation impossible to correct or even improve. We do not believe that. For one, it’s too easy – too easy to just look at the bigness and give up. Secondly, we do believe we have solutions: 21st Century technology. We know it’s practical and we believe it’s doable.

Zoning and Building Permits

Zoning is a huge subject. It could easily take a book or two. But fortunately as it pertains to Monolithic Domes, we have just a few things to cover.

Now Is The Time To: Plan Green Towns

During our past century, it seemed wise to live far from smelly factories and noisy industrial areas. That’s no longer true. Most smelly factories and industrial areas have been cleaned up. So why are we still settling for two-hour commutes to work?

MetaMax

When we started the El Dorado Chemical Company plant in early 2010, we started doing some research on different additives to put in the concrete, to help with its chemical resistance. Early in our research, we came across an additive called MetaMax.

The Singer Dome: A Story of Perseverance

Almost done — Windows will go all around cupola

I met William Singer in 1995, first by phone, then through the Monolithic Workshop he attended, and we have talked considerably since then. I am guessing that William was sixty plus when we first met, and, of course, the years piled on us all. After graduating from that Workshop, William, one of those independent guys who makes things happen, built his own dome-home.

An Invitation To Study the Architecture of the Future

We now have the technology! It’s here. We have it! We now know how to construct domes affordably. Monolithic suggests that architects, engineers and anyone else involved in structural design or construction learn the advantages of modern domes, and study the technology it takes to build them. Let us teach you.

Permafrost

Permafrost layers — The active layer will melt and freeze as the seasons change. While the permafrost stays permanently frozen and the talik never gets cold enough to freeze.

Permafrost is something most of us don’t ever have to worry about. In some parts of the United States, such as Florida, South Texas, Southern California and Arizona, the ground never freezes. You go further north and the ground only freezes a foot deep during the coldest winter months. But as you travel north, the ground may freeze two or three feet, then five or six feet.

Smaller Homes Are Greener Homes

Green construction – that term has now taken on a lot of new meanings. It obviously can mean something as simple as painting a building green. But it more likely means something we do that helps keep our planet user friendly – since we and all living things are the users. There are many ways to make our planet greener. One, obviously, is to build smaller homes.

An old fashioned approach to dome layout

3-D Model — After brainstorming their floorplan, the Ecker’s built this cardboard 3-D model to study how light and room area might appear in their finished Monolithic dome.

Chris Ecker, a Monolithic Dome owner and designer, says, “There are numerous ways you could go about designing your dream dome, whatever the intended use will be. Based on our experience, here are our suggestions.”

R-value Fairy Tale: The Myth of Insulation Values

In the following sample chapter of the ebook Urethane Foam: Magic Material – And the Best Kept Insulation Secret, David explains why the R-value is misleading, how it was devised and why it’s flawed and biased. It also includes case histories and discusses the purpose and workings of insulation.

Steel Rebar Placement in a Monolithic Dome

Workers attaching hoop rebar to rebar hangers

It’s important to understand why we use rebar (reinforcing steel bar) in concrete. It’s used to absorb tension forces in concrete, since concrete has very poor strength as a tension material. So correct placement of rebar is essential.

From Geodesic to Monolithic Domes

Framework for a geodesic dome — David B. South built this near his home in Shelley, Idaho about 1970.

While attending high school in Idaho back in the late 1950s, I listened to a lecture given by Buckminster Fuller. He was promoting his Geodesic Dome. I was instantly fascinated with the concept of a building which, because of its shape, would cover more area with less materials than any other structure.

Up and Down in the Round

Yuma Dome in Yuma, Arizona  — This staircase leads to the second and third levels in this multigenerational dome that encompasses eight suites, each with at least one bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, laundry area and closets. Dome has 3 stories, 84’ diameter, 40’ inside height, 11,000 square feet of living space.

Can a Monolithic Dome home have a loft? A stairway? An elevator? A basement? My answer is an emphatic yes to each, followed by an equally emphatic reservation: Carefully analyze your need and/or desire for any of these features and consider the alternatives.

Some lessons are learned the hard way

Consequences of steel fiber — Use of steel fibers instead of rebar allowed the top of this dome to cave in twice during construction. To repair this dome, we installed a rebar grid covered with welded wire fabric and re-sprayed both the urethane and shotcrete.

One day in 1979 (we had been building Monolithic Domes for about three years) a US Steel Company salesman showed up selling steel fibers. He told me if I used steel fibers I would not have to use rebar in my Monolithic Domes anymore.

Considering a Second Floor?

Under Construction — Second floor and staircase during construction stage in the home of Gary Clark in Italy, Texas.

A second floor can be designed in a Monolithic Dome home. But we suggest you consider some important factors when deciding whether or not to put in a second floor in your Monolithic Dome home.

Domes in Future City Competition

Entry 1 — Three models of self-sustaining cities entered into the Future City competition during National Engineers Week in Washington, DC.

Structural Engineer C.V. Surendran of Surendran Consulting, LLC, Lubbock, Texas attended National Engineers Week, February 16-18 in Washington, DC. He sent us an email saying that several of the Future City entries featured domes. He thought it was interesting that students “came up with the idea that dome housing be the best, (although) they had never heard about Monolithic.”

Practical Universal Design Ideas for the Dome Home Builder

Ecker Dome Home

How long are you planning to stay in your dream-dome? Probably decades and well into your elder years. With this in mind and a need for some practical, low- or no-cost universal design elements to handle physical needs, we offer these practical ideas that we incorporated into our dome.

Rebuilding with Monolithic Technology

At Monolithic, we have developed a simple structure to provide for the basic needs of a family. It’s a Monolithic EcoShell dome, designed specifically to answer the needs of shelterless people worldwide.

iPhone Dome Calculator

Step 1: Install MACalc Pro — Once the application is installed click on the menu button on the bottom left of the screen, then click on settings.

When the iPhone came out, we could immediately recognize the benefits. We knew that if we were going to make the switch to the iPhone, we would have to come up with a dome calculator.

Dome Homes Featured on Green Living Blog

These days news travels faster than ever with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook adding to the viral nature of the Internet. So it’s no surprise that Monolithic Domes are making news on blogs and other Internet sites dedicated to green housing.

To Every American in favor of Green Housing

For thirty plus years America’s leaders have been wanting more energy efficient, more hazard resistant, more cost efficient green structures for houses, churches, schools, etc. To those leaders and citizens we now say: We have such structures! Please implement the rules to allow them to happen.

Why build a concrete dome?

Load testing — Load testing a small thin-shell dome at the BYU laboratories.

The concrete dome is similar in shape and structure to an egg which has always been a fascination. The egg shows us that a relatively soft and weak material can be used to create a very strong structural shape. A simple demonstration illustrating the strength of an egg was made using a 2′ × 10′ wood plank, supported on one end by a rigid support and on the other end by one hard boiled egg. Four bags of Portland Cement were placed on the plank, at center span, one at a time, for a total of 376 pounds or 188 pounds on one egg. The shell did not crack! Such is the strength of some domes.

Epoxy Floors

Garage floor — A properly installed epoxy floor can beautify a garage and enhance the value of a house.

Epoxy coatings are a simple way to improve the appearance and maintenance of a garage floor.

How do you like your pizza?

A Metaphor — A round pizza in a square box is a perfect metaphor for building domes in a square world.

Consider the ubiquitous pizza. How do you like yours? With extra pepperoni and mushrooms? With peppers and onions? With one topping or the works? Picked up piping hot from the pizza shop? Or from the grocer’s freezer and baked in your oven? Maybe you’re the adventurous soul who makes their own dough and cooks their own sauce. Do you value convenience or quality? The next time that pizza is on your dinner menu, what type will it be?

What It Costs, Part 2

Choices — A curved-top front door may have looked better, but would have cost 5x more.

A cost index won’t tell you what your house will cost, but it does show you opportunities for upgrades and downgrades, and it does show trends.