WOW! It’s just like sunny Florida inside!
What do you get when you combine an enclosed heated pool and indoor agriculture system? An Agrithermosphere — a building used entirely for agricultural purposes. That’s what Gregg Swiderski built in Marengo, Illinois on his 100-acre farm. Although neighbors circulated rumors that he was raising dolphins or building nuclear-type equipment, he put their minds at ease by inviting them for a tour.
Gregg’s original Monolithic Dome design started as a circular dome, but was redesigned as a 2000-square-foot, tear-shaped structure with the largest end at 45 feet in diameter. The structure was configured with solar panels generating both heat and electricity to circulate the 36,000 cubic feet of air space.
With minimum labor and power, Gregg grows many useful plants: Swiss chard, sweet basil and bok-choy vegetables. He explains, “The heated pool acts as the heart of the building — constantly assisting the building in maintaining an average internal temperature of 70 degrees. Since the pool is covered when not in use and well insulated in the ground, the water maintains 80 degrees which allows me to use the pool as the primary heat source for the building. We haven’t had any problems with moisture, mold, or leaking of the skylights. The humidity remains at about thirty-seven percent.”
The pool water is chemical-free due to the use of an ozone technology system which virtually eliminates any chance of bacterial problems in the air and water. Lighting includes four skylights and grow lights for this aqua-culture system, and its stamped concrete floor gives the appearance of desert-looking limestone. Gregg bought a sail from Sterns, Chicago’s premier sail-makers, and hung it vertically in the building to act as a room divider. Turned vertically, the sail serves two purposes: 1) It conceals the filtration equipment. 2) It has the ability to isolate sound.
As for the future of his Agrithermosphere, Gregg says, “I may convert the pool for cultivation of freshwater fish, but that would require additional re-engineering of the filtration system.”
Note: This article is reprinted from the Summer 2000 Roundup.