Insulated Footings: Thermal Break for Monolithic Domes

Joey is taping off the area just above where they intend to spray foam to avoid getting any overspray on the airform. They have dug a trench around the footing about 10 inches deep that will be insulated.

Generally, in the US, footings are not insulated. By not insulating the footing, we have a place where cold can enter our houses. Monolithic Dome builders may need to consider insulating footings of Monolithic Dome homes to provide a thermal break and reduce chances for condensation and/or mold growth.

Mixing the Strongest Shotcrete

When I started building Monolithic Domes, I wanted to know how to make the strongest possible concrete. How much and what kind of cement, water, rock, sand, admixtures, etc. should we use? I went to the Portland Cement Association for advice. I asked other shotcreters. Over the years, I have tried every mix we could think of.

A Beautiful Monolithic Dome Home

At first glance, this Monolithic Dome looks more like a church than a home. Nevertheless, it is a single-family residence. The owner hand-applied the rock, that provides an extremely durable, lower cover for the home.

The owners of this grand dome-home have asked us not to publish their names or their dome’s exact location. We do, however, have permission to share these photos with our readers.

Maranatha Church: A Dome Sanctuary

The dome for Maranatha Church is 208’ diameter and 48’ tall.

Pastor Ronnie Trice and his wife Sandy organized Maranatha Church in December 1973, initially to serve its local community of Mont Belvieu, Texas. But church membership increased rapidly, so its congregation soon outgrew the sanctuary they then used, which seated six hundred.

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.

At Home in Sweet Dome Alabama

Sweet Dome Alabama  is the Monolithic Dome home of Beverly and Kenneth Garcia in New Hope, Alabama.

Back when their children were just kids and Beverly and Kenneth Garcia took family vacations, they discovered beautiful New Hope, Alabama. “We were then living in Mississippi, but we fell in love with the New Hope area,” Bev said. “It’s gorgeous up here – the mountains and the lake and we like to fly fish.” Then and there Ken and Bev decided that when they retired, they would relocate to New Hope.

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. 

Monolithic Towers: Multistory Dormitories and Apartments

These multistory dormitories have many of the important benefits of Monolithic Domes, including energy efficiency and the ability to resist fire and high winds.

Monolithic has been a bit slow about designing and building multistory living units. We recognize the need is extremely great. In many places land is just too valuable to tie up with single-unit residences. So we have asked architects and designers to come up with multistory designs.

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.

Hobbit House in the Media Spotlight

It’s not often that a newsmaker captures the attention of the esteemed New York Times and the hip MTV in the same week, but that’s exactly what happened to Steve Michaels and his wife, Chris. They are the creative geniuses behind the Hobbit House of Montana, a guesthouse inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s book by the same name.

Dome Homes Popular Among Survivalists

We have documented evidence that “Monolithic Domes”/topics/domes can survive powerful hurricanes and tornadoes, and even wildfires. But what about a catastrophic event like the end of the world as we know it? Thankfully, we haven’t had to put a dome to that kind of test, at least not yet. But dome homes are popular among survivalists, especially those who are interested in an underground shelter.

Letter From: Benjamin Neusse

While attending the April Workshop by day, I had the fortune of dreaming by night within the comfort of a Monolithic Dome. Such immersion brought to life the ability of Monolithic Domes to fill the vast structural needs of humanity. The integration of the most advanced building materials with nature’s perfect shape excited me about the capability domes have to shelter our lives.

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.

David South visits Joplin

On their drive into Joplin, Judy and David saw a lot of devastation. 

After the May 22 tornado devastated Joplin, a two-day workshop titled “Rebuild Joplin Strong” was organized for July 8-9 at Missouri Southern State University. David South was asked to present information about Monolithic Domes at this workshop. He and Judy, his wife, traveled to Joplin and were saddened by what they saw and heard.

Video: Monolithic Dome Schools

This video presents comments and information from superintendents, principals and teachers of Monolithic Dome schools in several States. Some talk about the advantages of going Monolithic because of significantly lower construction costs that influenced voters to pass bonds. Others comment on the energy-efficiency, affordable maintenance, and lower insurance premiums that Monolithic Dome schools enjoy. Still other comments focus on the dome’s ability to meet FEMA standards for near-absolute tornado protection, the design flexibility of a Monolithic Dome, and its use for community as well as school events.  

Making the Grade+: A report on established Monolithic Domes

Cradleboard Elementary School in Whiteriver, Arizona encompasses 34,000 square feet. A Native American motif is found throughout the school.

$322 billion! That, says the National Education Association in its Statistical Analysis Report of June 2000 is the staggering amount it will take to fix America’s schools. Of that $322 billion, about $54 billion should be allocated for educational technology. But the remaining $268 billion is needed to repair, renovate or add to existing school facilities.

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…."  

Project: The Future of Senior Living

The Future of Senior Living Project – Its ongoing mission is the creation, implementation and development of an innovative living environment for seniors. 

As a professional with experience in the best practices of gerontology, psychology and human relations both in Europe and America, I believe that Old Age should be as enjoyable as any other season of human life. The Future of Senior Living Project has a mission to create, implement and continuously develop an innovative concept for happy and healthy aging in a safe and comfortable home and family environment, with opportunities for community senior activities and information resources for social, medical, financial and other services applicable to the elderly.

Georgia Dome Home Makes News

This beautiful Monolithic Dome home in Cloudland, Georgia is a multi-level, prolate ellipsoid. Its Airform measured 60′×37′×27′.

Dade County, Georgia was one of many areas of the southern United States hit by deadly tornadoes this past spring. An EF-3 tornado struck the area on April 27, followed by two smaller EF-1 twisters. Although several homes were destroyed, one resident weathered the storms with no worries at all.

A Testament to the Dome Shape

Dome Shape Survives Direct Tornado Hit – On May 24, 2011 in Blanchard, OK, this house, which is a thin shell concrete dome but not a Monolithic Dome, was hit by an EF4 or EF5 tornado. Although badly damaged by heavy, flying debris, the dome shell survived. That, we think, is a testament to the dome shape. Conventional homes hit by this tornado were flattened and swept off their foundations.

At about 5:38 on a hot, humid afternoon, an EF4 tornado – possibly an EF5 – with winds of about 200 mph hit little Blanchard, Oklahoma and its 3225 residents. Fortunately unlike some of its neighbors hit by the same spate of tornadoes, Blanchard suffered no fatalities. But some people were hurt seriously and had to be hospitalized; 200 homes were either destroyed or damaged; vehicles were overturned and flung about; giant trees and shrubs were twisted and uprooted; heavy debris was blown hither and tither.

Rebuild Joplin Strong Workshop to Feature Monolithic Domes

The tornado-resistance of Monolithic Dome structures will be one of the featured topics at the Rebuild Joplin Strong workshop scheduled for July 8 and 9 on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. David B. South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute, is slated to speak at the event, which is designed to bring survivors, planners, and builders together with experts in storm-resistant, green construction practices. 

Tornado Tamer: A Tornado-Resistant Door

The Tornado Tamer – It’s been tested by Texas Tech Wind Science University, and it meets FEMA 320 Guidelines for a unit that can resist a wind force of up to 250 mph.

For several years Monolithic has been searching for an affordable door whose ability to resist tornado-force winds matched that of a Monolithic Dome. “We did not have a problem finding doors with the integrity we wanted,” said David South, president of Monolithic. “We found them, but they were in the $5000 to $7000 range. Put a few of those on a building and they really skyrocket the price of a project. We needed a door with two advantages: tornado-resistant strength and affordability. About a year ago, we found both in the Tornado Tamer.”

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.

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Robert Bissett’s New Design Book

Authored by architectural designer and artist Robert Bissett, this book takes the reader through all the stages required to produce a functional and attractive set of working drawings. The prospective home owner will learn how to start with a pencil-drawn floor plan, build a 3D computer model and produce and publish a complete set of house plans.

Thinking Outside of the Circle

Chuck Peters’ Cloudome — This beautiful Monolithic Dome home in Cloudland, GA is a multi-level, prolate ellipsoid. Its Airform measured 60′×37′×27′.

To dome or not to dome? That was my question. I had to make a decision about what to rebuild. Should I go with the traditional stick-built home or look at the alternative building techniques, which were becoming popular all over the country? I considered straw bales, earthship, earthbag, and several other options that would yield what I really wanted: an energy-efficient home.

A Cold Study Follow Up

The Eckers’ Monolithic Dome home in Galax, VA is an oblate elipse on a 2’ stemwall and has a 50’ diameter. Its single story with loft provides 2675 square feet of living space.

In early 2010 my wife Maddy and I, as owners of a dome under construction, submitted our original “Cold Study” article to Monolithic. Now that we’re living in our furnished dome, we wanted to share more energy consumption data, again concentrating on the colder months in SW Virginia. These data are reported in the attached tables.

The Tassell Dome: Rocked by hand and beautiful

Stoned and beautiful – Karen and Dan Tassell’s Monolithic Dome home sits on six acres just outside of Magonolia, Texas.

When Karen and Dan Tassell of Magnolia, Texas decided on a Monolithic Dome home, they agreed that Karen would do all the decorating, inside and out, and Dan would be in charge of construction details.

Monolithic Dome Suffers Slight Scorching In Oklahoma Wildfire

Dome in Marlow, OK survived a 3000 acre wildfire.

For 16 months, the construction of Jerri and Darrell Strube’s new Monolithic Dome home, 50 feet in diameter and 23 feet high, in Marlow, Oklahoma went relatively smoothly. Once Andy Barnes, owner of Alpha Omega Builders in Kingston, Oklahoma, completed the dome shell, Jerri and Darrell began doing the finishing. And all continued going rather well – until January 12.

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.

Stout Residence: Cool Dome in Hot Arizona

Garage – A rectangular, stucco 4-car garage is attached to the dome-home.

Roger describes their dome-home as “very energy efficient.” He said, “A couple of years ago, before the rates had gone up, I was happy to tell people that my highest (monthly electric) bill was $199. That was pretty amazing for a 3000-square-foot, all-electric house in Mesa.”

Dome Builder Prepares for Hurricane Season

While most Americans are focused on the devastating tornadoes that have been ransacking the nation, those who live in coastal areas have another type of natural disaster on their minds. Hurricane season began on June 1, and meteorologists are predicting that it could be a much more active than last year.

Tornadoes spark calls for rebuilding with safer structures

Sadly, it’s official. This year will go down as the deadliest tornado year since record keeping began, according to The National Weather Service. More than 500 people have died in tornadoes in 2011, with nearly half of the fatalities occurring in Alabama. Missouri ranks second with 139 deaths from the Joplin tornado alone. 

Letter From: David Del Bosque, Superintendent Avalon ISD

Damage sustained by Avalon ISD’s Monolithic Dome multipurpose/disaster center was limited to a few glass blocks which have been repaired. But a house across the road from the dome lost its roof and the school’s 60-year-old gymnasium was severely damaged. The school hopes to replace that old gym with another Monolithic Dome.

May’s tornadoes, specifically the one that rumbled through Avalon, served as a reminder of how precious and dear our children, school and community is to all of us. While we feared and marveled at nature’s fury, we counted our blessings that no one individual was harmed.

Impact Assessment of New Ngelepen

When the May 2006 earthquake destroyed much of Indonesia, Domes For The World responded with rebuilding plans. By April 2007, DFTW successfully designed and built the village of New Ngelepen, including 71 EcoShell homes and various other community buildings. In April 2011, a team of DFTW experts traveled back to New Ngelepen to assess the impact of this project on the village and its economy. Click here to read the report.

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!