Robot Ranch: An earth-sheltered dome and a work in progress

Robot Ranch.  — An elaborate door welcomes visitors to this Monolithic Dome home built into the side of a hill. Its gross floor area of 4,144 square feet includes two bedrooms and bathrooms, living area, kitchen, theater, office.

At first glance, when you drive up to what you think is Al Schwarz’s Monolithic Dome home in Ferris, Texas, what you see is a door, sticking up inside a concrete arch, that’s covered with rocks and surrounded by more rocks. “Is that the entrance?” you wonder. Once through that door, you go down a slate staircase that spirals over an aquarium and down into the main dome with living, dining and kitchen areas. You are underground — literally standing inside a hill — but if you hadn’t gone through that door and down those stairs, you wouldn’t know it. It’s comfortably cool and light inside this dome that’s inside of a hill — like being inside any quiet, nicely lighted, restful, Monolithic Dome home.

Mystery Solved!

ABC Domes, Lakeland, Florida — ABC Domes of the Lakeland Florida Business Continuity Center, off Interstate 4, between Orlando and Tampa.

While Monolithic Domes are growing in number every day, they remain a novelty to most people. That’s why when two domes went up alongside the highway between Orlando and Tampa recently, curious passersby began to wonder just what was inside those buildings.

Green Acres

Monolithic Headquarters, Italy, Texas

KDAF-TV, The 33, a television station in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, sent a news crew to the Monolithic Dome Institute to find out why dome buildings are considered so environmentally friendly.

Le Chateau de Lumiere-An Experiment In Beauty And Practicality

Le Chateau de Lumiere — Architectural design of the Crandall home derives from a 17th century farm house. The driveway, in colored, textured concrete, creates a beautiful entry.

“A very satisfying experiment!” That’s how Rick Crandall, MDI’s consulting architect, describes the construction of his new Monolithic Dome home in Lehi, Arizona, that he and wife Melody call Le Chateau de Lumiere or Castle of Light. Rick readily admits that between January 3, 2000 and January 3, 2001 he and Melody and their contractor Robert Johnson of Stetson Construction were not just building another Monolithic Dome home. “The purpose of this project was to do things that had not yet been done in other domes,” he said. “We had three goals — or areas of testing.”

Reaching for the E-Stars

Five E-Stars — The energy-use evaluation of Cheryl Roberts’ Monolithic Dome home earned a top rating of five E-Stars.

Will your dream home be a star performer, an Energy Star performer, that is? It’s not a question many folks ask as they plot and plan a home. Cheryl Roberts, proud and happy owner of a Monolithic Dome home in La Junta, Colorado, didn’t. But then Cheryl learned that her qualification for a low-interest mortgage through CHAFA, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, depended on her Monolithic Dome’s E-Star rating.

The Garlock Residence — A Dream Dome

The Garlock residence — A fabulous Monolithic Dome dream home sitting atop a ledge of the Colorado Rockies.

Debbie and Tom Garlocks’ reasons for wanting this Monolithic Dome home were as unique as the residence itself. He wanted disaster resistance, sturdiness, self-sufficency, energy-efficiency and low maintenance. But she was attracted by its 3800 square feet of living space, its waterfall, greenhouse and hydroponic garden.

Why is the Monolithic Dome “Green”?

We are often asked, “Why is the Monolithic Dome “Green?” As an answer to this question, we have outlined three of the most salient “green” points: Sustainability, energy efficiency, and use of green materials.

The RecoupAerator — Fresh Filtered Air

The RecoupAerator, Model 200 DX

The EPA and the American Lung Association recommend that, in all cases, proper ventilation be present in the home, before purchasing an air cleaner of any kind. The experts all agree that the most effective way to reduce indoor pollution is to ventilate — remove polluted air and replace it with fresh, outdoor air. However, during the winter or summer, the cost of adequate ventilation almost equals heating and cooling the neighborhood — except with the RecoupAerator, Model 200 DX.

Two More Dome Schools for Oklahoma

Geronimo ISD, Geronimo, Oklahoma — In Geronimo, school officials opted to go with five modular Monolithic Domes or pods. It will be the first school in the nation to adopt the concept of modular dome buildings.

Soon, Oklahoma will have two more dome schools. Dibble Public Schools, near Norman, and Geronimo School District, outside of Lawton, both have new educational structures under construction.

Video of Paxis 10 Scaffold

You will hear a lot more about our new Paxis Scaffold in the future on Monolithic.com, but in the meantime I will post some raw video clips. It’s hard to describe how nice this scaffold is, but with the new drive motors and the 10′ stance, this scaffold makes one of the sturdiest, safest platforms I have ever seen.

Progress at St. Joseph Church

The new paxis scaffold was a huge success, even though there are a few things that we are going to do differently. The one thing that we didn’t expect, was that it was so heavy that it started to make some pretty substantial ruts in the ground. We have been toying around with a few different ideas. First, I think we will pour a concrete circle in the middle of the dome so that the pivot point and tires have a harder surface to rotate on. Secondly, I think we will try to find some wider tires for the outside wheels, and change the way the motor is mounted so we have more ground clearance.

The New Paxis Scaffold

The New Paxis 10 Scaffold System — These images show the building of the first Paxis 10 Scaffold

Problem: Scaffold an 88 foot dome that has only 4 36″ standard doors?
Solution: Expand our already proven Polar Scaffold to fit that size of a dome.

Strain Sensors installed on the St. Joseph Church

Strain sensor — This a strain sensor being welded to a #6 bar.

Through the years of dome building we have always been playing a guessing game when it comes to reinforcement. So we finally found a way to find out once in for all, what is happening in these domes?