Vanuatu is a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. It is known for its coral reefs perfect for scuba diving and beautiful beaches. It also happens to be along the seismic belt of the Pacific Ocean known as the Ring of Fire, where volcanoes and earthquakes are prevalent. On the morning of June 22, a powerful 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation, knocking bottles off supermarket shelves and violently shaking homes.
Among those who were hit by the earthquake were several Ecoshells in a project headed up by Daryll Kelly. He was on site when it hit. “I was sitting at my computer in the 15 foot diameter Ecoshell gazebo when the building and all around began to shake,” he recounted. “I was amazed by how much the building moved as one piece, backwards and forwards it seemed.”
After the quake finished, he quickly organized his employees on site to check the rest of the domes for damage. “I had about 18 guys on site at the time and as soon as it was over I asked them to check all the domes for hairline cracks, and there were none,” he stated. “We celebrated that afternoon with 36 bottles of beer for the boys.”
Kelly is originally from Australia and had never experienced an earthquake before. “It was impressive to me,” he stated. This experience also cemented view on the value of these structures. “The earthquake confirmed my belief that these structures will save lives in the future during cyclones and earthquakes,” he stated.
Kelly’s project has 5 Ecoshells, located in the city of Port Vila on the island of Efate. It is part of a training program to train the local workforce in what Kelly says is “the use of materials and equipment that has never been seen before in Vanuatu.” The long-term goal of the program is to have a qualified workforce who can start a project with the help of unskilled volunteers. The purpose is to build homes for the safety in time of disaster.
Lately the domes have been painted bight colors, to match the culture of Vanuatu. “The people of Vanuatu are obsessed with bright colors and I have taken their lead in using festive colors for the domes,” Kelly stated. One more dome needs to be painted the top coat of color.