Design Blog

Monolithic welcomes and encourages the ideas of architects and designers. We have found those design ideas, for both privately and publicly owned Monolithic Domes, as varied as the professionals who authored them. This blog presents such innovative thinking, as well as design-related articles of general interest.

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.

An Attractive, New Augment

When Mike South built a new, small dome behind his home, he designed and built a tilted-out augment over the front entrance and the windows in back.  The front augment protects the door and provides shelter for folks entering the dome, while the back augment protects the windows.

When I decided to build a dome behind my house, I wanted to do something a little different. So we built a tilted-out augment onto the dome. The augment provides good protection from the elements. It keeps the doors and windows out of the rain, and it should make them last longer.

Curved Dome Walls: Easy and Fun to Decorate

The indoor courtyard entry at the Atalaya del Vulcan

Monolithic Dome walls are not only good for our environment, safe from natural disasters and cost effective, they’re easy and fun to decorate. Yes, curved walls are finally coming into their own. What decorators used to puzzle over and dread now has them cheering and praising.

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.

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. 

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

What It Costs, Part 1

Build site — Flat, open land with easy access means the easiest construction.

Estimating the cost of a house is tricky because houses have so many parts. Industry averages aren’t a substitute for a specific estimate for a specific plan, but they help to show trends and tendencies.

Finding the Finish Line

Natural balance — Water, plants, and wood structures balance the hard dome

Allocate sufficient time and budget to finish the entire house before taking a break. The results are worth the extra effort.

Just Chillin’

Chris Zweifel shows how an Airform and some cleverness make a one-of-a-kind winter dome.

The Current State of Solar

I’ve discussed solar electric with numerous clients over the years, so I figured it would be instructive to go through the process myself. Most of those clients considered solar in the context of living off-grid, totally separating themselves from the power company. In almost all cases it was prohibitively expensive because of the size of the solar arrays and storage needed to fulfill 100% of power needs.