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Podcasts

Podcasting was born from the iPod. The idea is that we can create video or audio segments, and people can download them for playback on their computer, iPod, or whatever device.

Here’s how we do it. We create an audio file, or video file, and we put it available for download on Monolithic.com. Then we also make it so that with iTunes, you can subscribe to the podcast.

Subscribing to a podcast means that when you turn on your iTunes, it will automatically look for the next update. If we publish a new video file, your computer will automatically download it. Then you can watch it whenever you want.

If you don’t have iTunes, and do not wish to subscribe, you can still come directly and download the files from our podcast section.

How to subscribe

  1. Make sure you have iTunes installed.
  2. Then click here to open iTunes to the Monolithic Podcast Section.
  3. Then click the subscribe button.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us. (Continued…)

"Hyperion" Series

The Hyperion Series consists of a triple-dome layout that features extending “saddles” between each of the domes. These saddles give the transition between domes a smooth, elongated look. Hyperion floor plans range from 1,600 to 4,000 sf and feature one-, two-, three-, four-, five-bedroom designs and a multi-level floor plan. (Continued…)

Interior Construction Products

Products you choose for the inside of your Monolithic Dome can add to your comfort and feeling of security. At Monolithic, we continually shop for, research and test various devices, that – according to their advertising – were designed to improve everyday life. (Continued…)

"Orion" Series

The Orion Series is a unique, straight-wall floor plan for a dome-home that could encompass two, three, four or five bedrooms. (Continued…)

Monolithic's Favorite Things

We are always on the lookout for things that in some significant way make life safer or more enjoyable. These findings do not necessarily have anything to do with domes. They’re just nice things that somehow improve us or our surroundings. (Continued…)

Dome Building Accessories

We have accessories – specifically, accessories that can make the construction of a Monolithic Dome easier or faster or better. We also have accessories designed to enhance a completed Monolithic Dome. (Continued…)

Professionals

To help our clients find the professionals they need to turn their Monolithic Dome dream into a reality, we maintain a listing service. It includes Monolithic Dome builders, architects and designers, foam applicators and suppliers, engineers, lending companies, appraisers, and insurance companies.

PLEASE NOTE: Inclusion in our listing service is not equivalent to a recommendation. Monolithic strongly advises that clients check references and inspect completed projects before signing a contract. (Continued…)

Academic Theses About Monolithic Domes

Energy Efficiency of Monolithic Domes

University of South Florida
Patel School of Global Sustainability
Alba Polonkey
August 2013

This report discusses America’s dire need for structures that are energy efficient and how Monolithic Domes can alleviate that need.

Fabrication of Concrete Modular Surfaces for Architecture

The University of Texas at Arlington
Michael L. Lowenthal
December 2010

This is an examination of the past, present and future of concrete surface structures, and an argument for the continued and expanded application of these structures through the use of modular design and fabrication with the use of textiles. 

Literature Review: Building Envelope, Heating, and Ventilating Practices and Technologies for Extreme Climates

National Research Council Canada
Bart Quimby
December 2006

This report documents the findings of the literature review, which includes significant information on practices, issues, and technologies regarding building envelopes, construction, heating, ventilating, indoor air quality, utilities, and socio-housing issues.

Optimization of Dome Housing in Sri Lanka

A Thesis Presented to the Building and Structural Engineering Department
Delft University of Technology
Carli Hammer
September 2006

The Solid House Foundation (SHF) uses inflatable hemispherical formwork to build concrete dome dwellings. In this thesis a study is made of possible optimization of the dome buidling concept. Main occasion is the increasing price of rebar and the bad availability of rebar in most regions where the SHF is active. As SHF is now involved in a large housing project in Sri Lanka, a first focus in on the region.

A Finite Element Analysis of the Monolithic Dome

A Thesis Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Idaho State University
Nanette South
December 2005

Its ten chapters, figures and tables discuss the history of thin-shell and Monolithic Domes, shell theory, finite element analysis, comparisons of shell theories and a buckling analysis.

Bond Strength Between Layers of Concrete

A Thesis Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Brigham Young University
Joseph L. Bingham
April 1997

Carlton Akeley, the inventor of sprayed concrete, or shotcrete, was looking for a method of producing concrete shapes that could not be formed using conventional means. This is still the basic philosophy behind the use of shotcrete for new construction. A common application of shotcrete is in the construction of thin-shelled dome structures using air supported forms.

Analysis of a Circular Concrete Floating Floor

A Project Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Brigham Young University
Michael Neal Anderson
February 1992

The modern structural engineer is always searching for innovative, efficient building functions which protection from the elements (earthquake, weather, etc.) and serve the purpose of the structure….A concrete floor designed as a turntable would provide access to all airplanes from one small common door much like a roundhouse in a train station.

Large Thin Shell Concrete Domes Using Air Supported Forms and Cable Nets

Thesis Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Brigham Young University
Robert J. Hatch
August 1994

The objective of this thesis is to show how steel cable nets can be incorporated into an air-supported forming system to facilitate the construction of large spherical concrete domes. The steel cable nets not only provide additional resistance to external forces, but assist in reducing the radius of curvature of air-supported forms.

Spherical Concrete Water Tank Design

A Thesis Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Brigham Young University
Steve James Hoggan
April 1982

The intent of this thesis is to suggest that a possible solution to the ever-increasing need to preserve and store water with the use of a concrete thin shell structure. A thin shell is a curved surface or shell whose thickness is relatively small compared with its other dimensions and its radius of curvature. The first and foremost advantage is its inherent shape which yields strength and stability. This means that large quantities of materials are not needed to obtain structural soundness.

Thin Shell Concrete Water Tower

Constructed with Balloon Formwork
A Project Presented to the Department of Civil Engineering
Brigham Young University
Kurt A. Warren
August 1983

This thesis describes the construction method for a water tower designed entirely of reinforced concrete. It will consist of a spherical tank supported by a hollow cylindrical tower resting on a square spread footing. Many shapes have been used for elevated water tanks. The most efficient shape, in terms of inside surface area of tank per capacity, is the sphere. This shape should, therefore, be the most economical.

Snow Control Study for Monolithic Domes

Mr. R.B. Durksen
Richmond, B.C.

The object of this study was to determine the snow drifting conditions on the structure of the domes. This study includes the results of the snow control study as carried out in the laboratory of Morrison, Hershfield, Theakston and Rowan Limited.

Lethbridge Concrete Dome Analysis for Unsymmetrical Loading

Arnold Wilson
March 19, 1979

Results of a finite element computer analysis for the two inch thick concrete domes at Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada are included in this report. This analysis shows that a dome is suited to almost any type of loading and that local bending induced by unsymmetrical loading is not critical as it is an arch.

Large Diameter Low-Profile Air Forms Using Cable Net Support Systems for Concrete Domes

A Thesis submitted to the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Brigham Young University
Scott E. Jacobs
June 1996

The objective of this thesis was to show that a cable net based on the geometry of the Pantheon roof would control distortions of a large-diameter, low-profile air form. A secondary purpose of this research was to show that this method of construction is cost effective, and optimizes construction time.

Alternate Forming System of Small Diameter Concrete Domes for Living Structures

A Project Presented to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brigham Young University
Christopher Scott Zweifel
May 17, 1997

My project originated from a desire to develop a forming system for the construction of small diameter concrete dome homes. The objective was to minimize the need for expensive tools and technical expertise. The construction method provides a good opportunity for areas where cheap labor is readily available.

Pull-Out Testing of Cast in Place Epoxy Grouted Reinforcement Sleeves

College of Engineering and Technology
Brigham Young University
Glenn P. Peterson

This report details the preparation and testing of reinforcement sleeves. The testing was based on ASTM C 234-86 bond tests. The objective was to test various reinforcement sleeves and compare the results to a control set of standard deformed bars. (Continued…)

More About Monolithic Domes

Image: Bruco — Bruco – the Italian name for caterpillar – is the Airform manufacturing plant of Monolithic Constructors, Inc. It was built using a single Airform that was shaped as seven interconnected domes.

Monolithic Domes have obvious qualities that become apparent to most people as soon as they learn about the materials and technology used in the dome’s construction. Those obvious qualities include the Monolithic Dome’s ability to withstand horrific calamities, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and fire. Two other such qualities are the dome’s energy-efficiency and greenness. But the Monolithic Dome has many not-so-obvious, subtle qualities as well. For example, the dome has an uninterrupted, clear-span interior that lends itself to any design or theme. And it has the strength to be buried. Those are just a few of the obvious and the subtle. We invite you to review them all. (Continued…)

Coatings

Image:

People often ask if and with what the exposed, outer surface of the Airform that blankets a Monolithic Dome can be coated. The answer is “yes” the Airform can be coated with several products that we have tested. In this section, you can read about these products, the procedure used for their application and the research we have done. (Continued…)

Water Filters

We all need clean water. Life on this planet simply is not possible without it. So Monolithic now offers several types of water filtering systems that are effective, easy to assemble or install, easy to maintain and reasonably priced.

We have water filtering systems that can be installed to filter every drop of water used in the home.

We also have a system that can be assembled for emergency use in the home or just about anywhere. It’s the same system that charitable organizations, such as the Texas Baptist Men’s Water Ministry, transport to and set-up in disaster- or war-torn areas.

And we have water filtering systems specifically designed for campers, hikers, bikers, mountain climbers, boaters and outdoor sport enthusiasts. (Continued…)

Residential Feasibility Study

Image: Randy South Home — 4,000 square foot dome in Menan, Idaho.  The home consists of three, interconnected Monolithic Domes: a center dome 40′×17′ and two flanking domes, each 34′×15′.  It also has five bedrooms. several bathrooms, a extra large kitchen, a living room, family room, library, utility room, and a loft made into a playroom big enough for a ping-pong table.

Note: If you are looking for the Commercial Feasibility Study, click here.

Monolithic’s Residential Feasibility Study — Like having foresight that’s as smart as hindsight

When it comes to constructing a home what we all need — what we all would like to have — is foresight that’s as smart as hindsight. Well, the closest thing that Monolithic has to 20/20 foresight for a home-building plan is a Residential Feasibility Study.

Just what is a Residential Feasibility Study and what does it do?

It’s a tool — a very practical, helpful tool in the form of a professionally done, very detailed, preliminary evaluation of a Monolithic Dome residence.

It includes a comparison of the Monolithic Dome process to other building systems. It defines the design and intent of your project. It establishes a detailed, estimated budget, based on the best available information. (Study does not include actual construction plans.)

How does that help?

At Monolithic, Residential Feasibility Studies are individually prepared by professionals, for your specific home. We do not offer canned or preformed studies. And we take everything affecting your dome-home into consideration: its location, its size, number of occupants, your lifestyle, etc.

Armed with that information, you can confidently decide whether to proceed with your project, change it, or forsake it — and you can make that decision before engaging an architect.

Our qualified design professionals study your dome-home plans and, working with Monolithic Construction Management personnel, establish a budget.

Here’s how it works:

You provide:

  • A word picture describing rooms, space uses, and equipment
  • A site plan, and/or plot description of your property
  • Sketches, or any other ideas that you have

MDI provides:

  • A preliminary site schematic developed from information furnished by you
  • A floor plan to scale showing all described space uses
  • An exterior sketch of proposed front building elevation
  • A budget for construction using a square-foot method based on recent, similar homes, near your location if possible

Steps for a Residential Feasibility

Contributes to construction drawings

The best part is that the whole $549 fee is contributed to the cost of the construction drawings. So the feasibility study is essentially FREE when you decide to build your Monolithic Dome home.

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More about the Monolithic Dome Sports Facility

Image: Avalon High School Gym — Designed by Monolithic Architect Rick Crandall and built with a 12’ stemwall, Avalon High School’s Gym measures 124′ × 25′ with a total height of 37 feet.

With a Monolithic Dome you can have the sports facility of your dreams. It can be designed to fit every need—from a simple practice gymnasium to an elaborate fitness center to a giant stadium or arena.

As a sport facility, the Monolithic Dome has significant advantages you can’t afford to ignore.

Design Flexibility – When it comes to design, the Monolithic Dome has traits that make it ideal for any activity:

  • Size – A Monolithic Dome sport facility can be small or large. Typically, a gymnasium has a diameter of about 148 feet. But a super arena could be a Crenosphere™ with a diameter of 500 or 600 feet. Then too, the facility could consist of a single-story structure, a multi-story structure or several interconnected domes.
  • Clear-span Interior – There are no pillars or posts interrupting the inside of a Monolithic Dome. It does not need or use such architectural supports. Therefore, views from stadium seats, regardless of their location, are clear and uninterrupted.
  • Super Strength – Although its interior uses no supporting posts, a Monolithic Dome has tremendous strength. Its walls can support all types of hangings—mezzanines, balconies, galleries, walkways, running tracks, stairways, press boxes, score boards or audio and video housing.
  • Lower Construction Costs – It’s a fact! Per square foot, Monolithic Domes cost less to build than other structure types of the same size. And the larger the building, the greater are the savings.

But lower construction costs do not translate into cheap or inferior. You will not sacrifice quality, strength or durability. The very opposite is true.

That’s because of the materials (concrete and steel) and the patented process used in the building of a Monolithic Dome. They make its construction more affordable, but at the same time they create a superior facility.

Timely Construction – It also makes Monolithic Domes a better bargain. Once the Airform®, the dome’s rugged, outer skin, is inflated and stabilized, construction continues on the inside of a Monolithic Dome, unhampered by a lack of daylight or good weather. In other words, workers can go on with the building even at night or when it’s windy, raining, snowing or hailing.

Generally, work delays and stoppages are also avoided because its major materials—the Shotcrete and rebar—used in the dome’s construction are usually and conveniently available.

Construction Management – Monolithic offers Construction Management. It’s a service that keeps you in charge but frees you of day-to-day hassles. Our Construction Manager acts as your consultant during both the design and construction stages. Thus you, the client, stay in control of your project and its cost, while the Construction Manager provides advice and does the daily coordinating and negotiating with contractors and subcontractors.

Design Consultation – Monolithic can provide experienced, professional help to architects and engineers who are new to domes. We also make much information and data available on monolithic.com and in printed form and CDs.

Superior Insulation – Polyurethane foam, sandwiched between a Monolithic Dome’s Airform® and its concrete shell, thoroughly insulates the dome. In essence, this insulating process, that blankets the shell and fills every nook, eliminates air leaks and turns the Monolithic Dome into a self-contained, thermal battery.

So, we claim an effective insulating R-value of 60. That claim is substantiated by actual practice and our customers who have monitored their heating and cooling costs.

For a sport facility, the superior insulation of a Monolithic Dome produces two significant results:

  • Energy Efficiency – A Monolithic Dome uses less energy for heating and cooling than do other types of buildings of the same size. Less energy-use means less heating and cooling equipment and less of its maintenance, repair and replacement. That saves money at construction time and in the long run.
  • Easy Temperature Control – You may just need a comfortable and healthy environment inside a school gymnasium or fitness center. On the other hand, your facility may be an indoor hockey stadium or an ice skating rink. Whatever the case, a Monolithic Dome can easily, efficiently and economically reach and maintain the temperature you want and need.

Fire Resistance – According to the Uniform Building Code that categorizes structures based on their fire resistance, Monolithic Domes get a high Type II rating. That means that they have a superior ability to resist fire—the concrete shell will not burn—and they qualify for lower insurance rates.

The domes also meet requirements set by the International Building Code since they can be fitted with a sprinkler system that is buried in and protected by concrete.

Security – Easily monitored exits and security checkpoints are standard in a Monolithic Dome sport facility.

Tests have shown that rifle and handgun bullets cannot penetrate the dome’s concrete, and their survival in war-torn areas has proved their ability to withstand explosives and open fire.

Near-absolute Disaster Protection – Monolithic Domes can and have survived tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. They meet or exceed all regional building codes and requirements. They also meet or exceed FEMA’s specifications for a building to provide near-absolute protection against tornadoes and hurricanes.

Many communities have officially made a Monolithic Dome their Community Disaster Shelter, and some have received Red Cross certification as such.

Super-Greenness – Building a Monolithic Dome does not deplete our planet’s forests, nor does it pollute our environment. The domes conserve our natural materials, space and electricity. They require a smaller surface area and use fewer materials to enclose that area. They are perfect candidates for a solar-thermal system that captures and uses free sunlight and heat.

Durability – Monolithic Domes have a lifespan measured in centuries, not years.

Lower Long-Term Maintenance Costs – Generally, a Monolithic Dome needs a minimum of upkeep and maintenance. Its Airform® can be painted or covered with a variety of materials, including but not limited to stucco, concrete or tile.

The dome’s concrete does not attract termites, vermin, mildew, mold or rot.

Since Monolithic Domes are not prone to many common dangers, they usually are less expensive to insure.

Feasibility Study – You can commission a Feasibility Study of the sport facility you want. Such a detailed study, completed by our professional designers and engineers, will give you a realistic, preliminary program with sketches, design details and estimated costs. You can then decide to accept, reject or change your plans. (Continued…)

Windows, Doors and Openings

The designers at Monolithic realize the importance of the openings planned for a dome. So, the articles in this section discuss the pros and cons of various windows and door styles, code regulations, window and door openings designed specifically for Monolithic Domes, etc. (Continued…)

Monolithic Dome Shapes

Image: Miller Residence — The Miller’s Dome is a hemisphere with a 48-foot diameter and a tubular extension, built using a single Airform.

Choosing a Profile and Shape

The profile of a dome determines the size of its surface area or dome shell, and the amount of surface area significantly affects construction cost. In other words, the more surface area there is, the more expensive it will be.

Hemisphere or Oblate Ellipse?

In a dome that is a hemisphere, the area of the floor is equal to pi (3.14159) multiplied by the radius squared or pi X radius X radius. The surface area of that hemisphere is exactly 2 X pi X radius squared. So, the surface area of a hemisphere dome is precisely twice that of its floor area.

But most of us live only in the bottom eight feet of a structure. Some of that space above us may not be what we want or need. In that case, we might consider a different profile.

An oblate ellipse may better suit us. It can save a considerable amount of square footage of the dome shell and still provide us with virtually the same amount of floor or living area.

For that reason, most of the homes Monolithic designs have an oblate ellipse profile. That includes two-story domes; they go straight up and are then topped with an oblate ellipse.

Big Domes

When we design big domes with diameters of at least 200 feet, we have to be even more cognizant of the geometry. Consider a dome that is 200 feet in diameter and 50 feet in height. That’s a great dome! Its surface area equals 39,270 square feet; its floor area equals 31,416 square feet. So, the surface area is only 25 percent larger than its floor area. We have used the least amount of materials to build this dome, but we have given ourselves a maximum amount of usable square footage.

Now consider what happens when we keep the diameter at 200 feet but raise the height and create a dome that is 200 feet by 67.6 feet. Its floor area remains at 31,416 square feet, but its surface area increases to 45,802 square feet. Obviously, such an increase affects price and is not something you want to do if there is no need for it.

And here’s what happens if we design that same dome as a hemisphere, 200’ X 100’: floor area = 31,416 square feet; surface area = 62,832 square feet.

An Appropriate Profile

Sometimes people want a dome with a profile that is not appropriate to their needs. For example, a 200’ X 100’ hemisphere dome is not a good choice for a church. To enclose its floor area, you must build 62,832 square feet of surface area! A church has no practical use for all that space above the congregation.

On the other hand, that very same hemisphere is a most appropriate choice for a bulk storage facility. If you’re storing fertilizer, for example, you want and need all that upper space. You might even consider designing your storage dome with an integrated stemwall of twenty, thirty or forty feet and topping it with a hemisphere.

We have illustrated three domes, each with exactly the same amount of floor area below 14 feet in height. But each has a different footprint and a different surface area. It’s important that dome buyers understand these relationships, so they can get the maximum benefit for their money.

At Monolithic, we are more than happy to review the geometry of any project.

Shapes

Here are most of the pure geometric shapes we use in designing the Airforms that are inflated to build Monolithic Domes. These shapes are shown individually. But they can be intersected with each other to provide additional combinations. And their connections can be smoothed to better define the sculptured shapes. In addition to these regular shapes, others can be airformed as well.

FAQs about Monolithic Dome shapes

Q: Since the center section is not constructed in a torus, is it less expensive to build?

A: Actually, no. The dome curves in on itself again to make the tube, thereby increasing the surface area of the dome shell.

Q: What is the usual size of a torus and have you ever built one?

A: A common home size is 66 feet in diameter with a 32-foot diameter center section. It definitely can be much larger. So far, the torus has failed the cost test. A Monolithic Dome of equal size is about the same price.

Q: What is the maximum height at the center of an oblate ellipsoid style dome?

A: An oblate ellipsoid is an ideal shape for homes and one-story buildings. It brings the height of the dome down; but the walls at the base are more vertical so it provides more shoulder room. In general, an oblate ellipsoid should not have a minor-axis-to-major-axis ratio greater than 1.45. Consider a 32-foot diameter dome. The major axis is 16 feet. Divide 16 by 1.45 and the minor axis is 11 feet. If we wanted the building to be two-stories high, we would put a 7-foot or 8-foot stemwall under the elliptical dome for a total height of 19 or 20 feet. The Oberon plan is an oblate ellipsoid, 32 feet in diameter and 12 feet tall. It makes a nice, one-story home with one, two, three or even four bedrooms.

Q: The prolate looks as though it may have better interior feel and window options. Am I seeing this correctly?

A: Sometimes a prolate fits the lot better. Rarely does it make the windows or shape better. Mostly,it may look better on paper; but in reality, you cannot see anything but a small part of it from the street or inside. There is very little benefit to the prolate, except for site considerations. The Monolithic Dome called " Eye of the Storm " has the long axis parallel with the beach; therefore more beach can be seen from the house. The house still looks circular from the beach. It also looks circular from within. It just has more exposure to the ocean because it is a prolate. The prolate costs more per square foot. It takes more material to enclose a smaller space than a traditional circular shape.

Q: Are profiles other than the circular and elliptical available?

A: Yes – we can do cones, cylinders, parabolas, some hyperbolics, and some sculpted shapes. Air tends to blow round, therefore at least one dimension of the Airform must be round. The only limitations are that it must be inflatable and engineer-able.

Dome Variations/Configurations

These design concepts have been approved as feasible and reasonable for our use.

Updated April 2009 (Continued…)

'Round To It

This blog welcomes and includes contributions by all Monolithic Dome enthusiasts, as well as illustrated articles that feature interviews we have done with various experts. It also includes fun videos. Best of all, the blog includes a special section in which owners can post information and pictures of a completed Monolithic Dome home that is for sale. We feel that information should be a help to folks wishing to sell their Monolithic Dome home as well as those looking to buy. Please visit the ‘Round To It blog frequently and review items as they’re submitted. (Continued…)

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. (Continued…)