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The President’s Sphere

David B. South, co-inventor of the Monolithic Dome and founder and president of Monolithic, works hard at spreading the word about Monolithic Domes, sharing information and providing suggestions. In the President’s Sphere, David talks about topics related specifically to the construction and care of Monolithic Domes, such as the super insulation and energy efficiency of the domes, their ability to survive virtually any natural or manmade disaster, and Monolithic’s ongoing research and testing of new products. In addition, David talks about and offers solutions to social problems and concerns, such as our nation’s dire need for safe, clean, affordable housing. We invite you to frequently visit the President’s Sphere and review the articles as they’re added.

Salt Water Concrete—A Reality

Image: Basalt reinforced domes would be an attractive, low-cost solution for coastal communities. Small homes (similar to this steel reinforced EcoShell) could be built by hand.

Can you imagine being able to build a concrete dome on the seashore using only the available sea water and beach sand? David B. South addresses the building of Ecoshells using salt water and salty sand in his latest “President’s Sphere.” The use of basalt rebar makes this not only possible, but completely simple and feasible. (Continued…)

What the customer REALLY wants

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This cartoon depicts in a funny way what often happens to building projects. A school or prospective home owner will describe their needs to a contractor and will very often end up with an end result far different than what was needed. (Continued…)

Luxurious Tropical Islands: better as a Monolithic Dome

Image: A spectacular, length-wise view!

Currently, the world’s largest free-standing structure, with no interior supporting pillars, is an indoor luxury resort, called Tropical Islands, in Krausnick, Germany. We’re presenting information about it on our website because we want it to be known that everything Tropical Islands is – including gigantic size, tropical environment, entertainment, accommodations – can be an indoor resort or theme park in a Monolithic Dome. (Continued…)

Letter to all School Superintendents and Legislators

Image: Monolithic Dome Schools – THE answer for schools in “tornado alley.”
See: http://www.monolithic.com/topics/schools

School children were killed in the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma in the spring of 2013. That need not happen at your school – or any school. It is possible to have A TORNADO-SAFE and AFFORDABLE SCHOOL. (Continued…)

Financing Monolithic Dome Homes

Image: Monolithic Dome homes cut energy costs by a minimum of 50%. The government wants us to save energy, but will not allow loans for Monolithic Dome homes.
Home of Monolithic President, David B. South.

Since the fall of 2007, financing homes, especially Monolithic Dome homes, has become a big problem. The federal government, determined to keep the banks from failing, established new rules for home financing. Those rules helped the banks and some home owners, but they destroyed the progress being made by builders of energy-efficient, greener, better homes. How do we get those rules reversed? (Continued…)

A Timely Message To All

Image: The Avalon School Multipurpose Center is now more than ten years old. It has survived much use by hundreds of students and community residents. It has also served as a tornado shelter sever times. One such tornado caused significant damage to other parts of the school and neighborhood. But those in the Monolithic Dome remained totally safe.
See: http://www.monolithic.com/stories/feature-school-avalon-highschool

Recently, the superintendent of the Avalon School District was asked if they planned to let school out because tornadoes were bouncing around the area. He said, “No. My children have no homes that they can go to that are as safe as our school. What I am doing is inviting the parents to come here and be with their children in a safe place.” (Continued…)

Goals and the Big Picture

Goals are like road maps. If you reach for a goal and get side tracked, it is no more serious than driving for a destination and missing a turn. On the other hand, very few people ever get anywhere by wandering aimlessly. (Continued…)

Cost to cool your building

Image: This Texas school has two conventional buildings, each with 20 air conditioning units along its back wall. That’s 40 units for just one tax-supported school! What does it cost to install and run 40 ac units in hot, humid Texas?

Like many traditional schools, this building has a line of 20 air conditioning units along its back wall. The companion building has another 20 units along its back wall. That’s 40 AC units at just one school! Consider what it costs to install 20 units. How much electrical do those 20 units require? How much copper? How much just plain expense does it take to install and run 20 units? (Continued…)

Rentals and Ecoshells: a good first step for your dome building business

Image: Shown here is an Ecoshell with a 20’ diameter. It’s one of the first ones we built as a commercial building. Notice that it is spherical in shape. Made as an Ecoshell I, it was built during a Monolithic Workshop, here at our plant in Italy, Texas. It is about 20 years old and has worked very well for us. The structure was painted with a white exterior coating.

People go through one of our Workshops to learn about and actually experience the construction of a Monolithic Dome. Some actually want to start a dome-building business of their own. But what should they start with? What’s their first product – a Monolithic Dome home? That sounds far too complicated for most beginners. (Continued…)

To Architects and Designers: Tax Rebate 179-D

Many people do not know that there are some serious tax implications for designers of public-funded structures. Such buildings include schools, city halls – anything paid for with public monies. I urge architects and designers to review Section 179-D of the tax code. You as a designer can get a tax rebate of up to a $1.80 per square foot when you design these publicly financed buildings. (Continued…)

Insurance for Monolithic Domes

I am writing this piece to give Monolithic Dome owners some hints on getting insurance for their homes as well as commercial buildings. (Continued…)

Monolithic Domes and Hail Damage

Recently, a school superintendent interested in a Monolithic Dome for his campus told me about a conversation he had with an architect, who will remain nameless. According to the superintendent, the architect had told him that Monolithic’s Airform fabric and sprayed-in foam insulation were “fragile and would sustain severe damage in a hailstorm.” I’m always concerned about such statements. (Continued…)

Supper in the Dark and a Lantern

Image: This LED emergency lantern can charge itself in the sun, or it can be charged by turning its handle for a couple of minutes.

In the summer of 2010 I met the wife of a man I was doing business with in Europe. Several times during my visit, I had supper with her and her family. In each case, the supper was a stew. (Continued…)

America’s Growing Need for Housing

I am often amazed by a community’s initial response for permission to build affordable, clean, safe, low-maintenance, long-lasting housing. (Continued…)

Skyfarming

It’s a concept that’s garnering interest rapidly! And it should. Gordon James Graff, a candidate for a Master of Architecture degree at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, has authored a thesis about it. Mr. Graff argues that skyfarming, or what some call vertical farming, can produce huge amounts of food far more efficiently in controlled environments built into multi-story structures. While the thesis could not and does not specify Monolithic Domes, it presents well documented information on vertical farming, an endeavor Monolithic has been exploring. (Continued…)

Your New House: Investment or Money Pit?

A home comes in two parts; the first part is the investment. With the investment comes its value as a family domicile, a place of refuge (if it is strong enough to be a refuge), and a place for the family to gather, work, struggle and grow together. The second part of the house is the money pit. That’s the cost of maintenance, fuel, electricity and manpower it takes to maintain and operate a house. The money pit is where you throw hard-earned cash that’s never seen again by you, the homeowner. (Continued…)

Preparedness Takes Preparation

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As a young man, I recall sitting in church and looking at a large painted mural at the front of our chapel. It depicted the parable of the ten virgins – five wise and five foolish. I knew that the five foolish ones had arrived without sufficient oil while the five wise ones had plenty. I also knew that when the bridegroom showed up, the smarties who came prepared were allowed to go in with him; the others were not. At the time, I didn’t understand that; it all seemed a bit cruel to me. As I matured, I realized that preparedness definitely has its rewards. (Continued…)

Wanted: Pharmacist for Italy, Texas

Currently, Italy, Texas lacks a pharmacist. If you are a licensed pharmacist and ready to make a serious change in your life, please consider Italy, Texas – home of the Monolithic Dome Institute and a great place to live. (Continued…)

Shelter: It ain’t what it used to be!

In 1943 Abraham Maslow published his eye-opening paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, that featured a pyramid of human needs. Shelter,, a universal human need fell into the second longest level of this pyramid. But just what was shelter for the average American in 1943 and in the years that followed? For most of us it meant having a roof over our heads – a reliable one that could protect us from the rain, wind, cold and heat. That, however, is no longer true. (Continued…)

Monolithic Bomb Shelters and Fallout Shelters

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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.” (Continued…)

Understanding Seismic Zones

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

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? (Continued…)

Fire Safety in a Monolithic Dome or Any Home 

Image: 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.  (Continued…)

Grow Domes Are the Future

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

Monolithic Domes: A Tornado Solution That Is A Secret!

Image: 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! (Continued…)

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!  (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

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? (Continued…)

The Singer Dome: A Story of Perseverance

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

Alternative Power

Alternative power and green buildings are often equated as meaning the same thing, but there are some real differences. It’s quite obvious that eliminating the need for power is far better, economically and environmentally, than using an expensive alternative power. So, do we need alternative power? Absolutely! (Continued…)

Permafrost

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

R-value Fairy Tale: The Myth of Insulation Values

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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. (Continued…)

From Geodesic to Monolithic Domes

Image: 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 1950s, I attended 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. (Continued…)

Up and Down in the Round

Image: 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. (Continued…)

Some lessons are learned the hard way

Image: 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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)