Residential Plan and Design

Want to read the suggestions and ideas of architects and designers who have successfully planned many Monolithic Dome homes? Want to see their designs? Or, are you more interested in what engineers have to say about Monolithic Dome homes? Do you have questions about the heating or air conditioning of a Monolithic Dome home? If you’re concerned about anything related to the planning and design of a Monolithic Dome home, you will probably find the answer you need in this section. Besides articles by experts and Monolithic Dome owners and/or administrators, it contains tools, such as Google’s “SketchUp,” for planning a dome, floor plans and photographs. And new information is frequently added.

Design Advantages of the Monolithic Dome

Monolithic Dome Rental in Italy, Texas — This Rental Unit provides secure, quiet, clean and affordable living accommodations even when an approaching storm darkens the skies.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, but the Monolithic Dome comes close. The original cost of a Monolithic Dome is generally less than that of a similar- size conventional building. Often it is much less. Then there is cost recovery. Generally, over a period of twenty years, savings in energy costs will equal the full cost of a Monolithic Dome facility. So, in effect, it becomes free.

Insulated Footings: Thermal Break for Monolithic Domes

Joey is taping off the area just above where they intend to spray foam to avoid getting any overspray on the airform. They have dug a trench around the footing about 10 inches deep that will be insulated.

Generally, in the US, footings are not insulated. By not insulating the footing, we have a place where cold can enter our houses. Monolithic Dome builders may need to consider insulating footings of Monolithic Dome homes to provide a thermal break and reduce chances for condensation and/or mold growth.

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.

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.

In With The New; Out With The Old

Systems compared — A conventional system brings in the maximum amount of outside air, whether needed or not. No allowances are made for crowd size. The cooling unit functions as an air handler even if CO2 levels are extremely low.  	

In a split system, the cooling unit only recirculates air inside the building. Human respirations increase the buildings CO2 levels and trigger the CO2 sensor to turn on the outside air intake system. So this ventilation system only brings fresh air into the building as needed, depending on crowd size. This dramatically lessens energy consumption and cost.

Within any building, many things affect air quality. Those things include carpeting, paint, paneling, furnishings, etc. Each or everyone can emit gases into the air that are bad for us. Organic materials within a building can harbor their own kind of bad stuff, such as mold, mites, bacteria, viruses, insects and even vermin.
So just what is the solution?

Considering a Second Floor?

Under Construction — Second floor and staircase during construction stage in the home of Gary Clark in Italy, Texas.

A second floor can be designed in a Monolithic Dome home. But we suggest you consider some important factors when deciding whether or not to put in a second floor in your Monolithic Dome home.

iPhone Dome Calculator

Step 1: Install MACalc Pro — Once the application is installed click on the menu button on the bottom left of the screen, then click on settings.

When the iPhone came out, we could immediately recognize the benefits. We knew that if we were going to make the switch to the iPhone, we would have to come up with a dome calculator.

Exterior Window Treatments: A Primer

Side shapes and arch shapes

When designing your dome for residential or commercial use, it’s worth thinking through multiple construction possibilities early in your planning. Floor plans and fixtures might take up the bulk of your time, but an often overlooked issue is the dressing out of your exterior windows.

Considerations for Arched Window Bucks in Airform Augments

Side view of augment showing height difference of window buck — Left Image: Poor profile shape due to size of buck and interior air pressure.  Curves exaggerated for illustration.  The buck was made to fit a hypothetical window.
Right Image: Augment appears more square from the side view due to the increased height of the buck.  In this case the larger buck has been made to fit tight in the Airform augment just inside the window seaming.

So after all the back-slapping, hand-shaking and fan fair during the Airform inflation, you’re finally ready to get down to the business of interior construction. From inside, you’re admiring the eye-catching, organic shape of the inflated Airform and the ethereal translucence as the sunlight filters through fabric, when a contractor derails your train of thought.

The Oberon

The Oberon, named for one of the moons of Uranus, is an 804-square-foot home. The flexibility of this size dome has resulted in several floor plan layouts created by our design department.

Stemwalls: What Works Best

Integrated stemwall — For this dome, Monolithic designed the Airform to go straight up, reach the bottom of the second floor, then start to curve over the top. At the second level, an eave was installed that encircles the dome. Although not particularly hard to do, the eave gives the dome a vastly different appearance.

We often design a Monolithic Dome with a vertical stemwwall that goes straight up and acts as a base for the dome. Over the years, we’ve developed several ways of building stemwalls and have tried several options.

A Monolithic Dome’s Two Batteries

For a very long time we have known, planned around and used the thermal inertia of the Monolithic Dome. We call that thermal inertia the thermal battery. Why battery? Because significant savings in heating and cooling equipment can be achieved if you can trim the highs and lows by using the battery.

Exterior Design 101

In the Beginning — Every home in its beginning stage is bare. Exterior elements provide interest and variety. Banding used to connect the two domes adds horizontal lines and gives the dome a lineal feel.

When deciding to build a home, most people focus on interior floor plan, while the exterior often becomes an afterthought. Yet, it’s the home’s exterior that governs that all-important first impression your home creates.

The Monolithic Dome: Not a Square Idea

Rising from the Texas horizon in a futuristic fashion are unusual looking white domes. Many a motorist has stopped on I-35E near Italy, Texas, for a closer look. What are these one-piece buildings that look much like a puffed marshmallow or an Arctic igloo? They are Monolithic Domes.

Monolithic Floor Plans

For your dream dome-home, our library includes floor plans in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. That size-range includes small, cozy cottages, as well as spacious and spectacular castle-like domains and everything in between. But while sizes and shapes may vary, the benefits of a Monolithic Dome home remain constant. In addition to long-range savings, our very green Monolithic Domes provide energy-efficiency, disaster protection and more. This website has tools and hundreds of articles related to dome design. In addition, our staff includes professionals with experience and expertise that can help you design the exact floor plan you want and need.

Determine HVAC Needs For A Monolithic Dome: An Engineer’s Advice

Gordon Cuthbertson, owner of Cuthbertson Mechanical Engineers, of Mesa, Arizona and Ontario, Canada, was a skeptic. When Gordon first got involved with Monolithic Domes about four years ago, he, like so many others, had a hard time accepting and believing what the Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI) says about the thermal mass capability of its structures.

Wind, Water, Corrosion and Monolithic Domes

Eye of the Storm — View of “Eye of the Storm” dome home from the beach on Sullivans Island, SC. The “Eye of the Storm” is much more than a pretty house, it also demonstrates the practical aspects of a Monolithic Dome on beach front property.

Building a beach front home offers a few extra challenges such as wind, water, erosion, flying debris and corrosion. A Monolithic Dome home successfully meets each of these challenges.

A Word Picture — How to Design Your Own Dome Home

If we fail to plan, we create a plan to fail. The single most important step in any construction project is the “word picture.” This step is often not properly taken, or at least not taken seriously. In architectural language we call it “the program.” What is a word picture? A word picture is the description of what we are trying to accomplish in sentences.

Residential Feasibility Study

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.

We have a way for you to compare our process for designing and constructing a Monolithic home to other building systems. It’s called a Residential Feasibility Study. Such a Study is an integral part of planning. It lists what you, the client, will provide and what Monolithic provides.

An innovative architect sold on the Monolithic Dome’s versatility

Rick Crandall — Since the early 1990s, Architect Rick Crandall, head of Crandall Design Group in Mesa, AZ, has been designing a full range of Monolithic Domes. The pictures that follow include some of those projects.

“It’s the stretch!” That’s what Rick Crandall, one of Monolithic’s consulting architects, credits for his continued interest in Monolithic Domes. This Arizonian recalls that in 1996 when his association with the Monolithic Dome Institute first began, two factors fueled his interest in domes. “I was persuaded by the good experiences I had working with David South and other architects in the first four or five projects we did,” Crandall says. “But another factor was equally compelling: the stretch.”

How To Get That Absolutely Necessary Building Permit

In most places, acquiring a permit is simple and straight forward. In a few places, it’s complicated. Either way, if you need help, just contact us at the Monolithic Dome Institute and we’ll do what we can to help.

SketchUp: A New Planning Tool

Ariel Outside View

SketchUp is a drafting/rendering program produced by Google. On it’s defined as “software that you can use to create, share and present 3D models.” It’s new and it’s fun, and with it you can design a Monolithic Dome home, school, church, gymnasium — or whatever.

Building Beautiful Luxury Domes

Dome of a Home — Mark and Valerie Sigler’s dome in Pensacola Beach, Florida was built after their conventional home was damaged twice by hurricanes.

When Mark and I decided to build a dome, we toured several domes and were extremely discouraged with the lack of aesthetic consideration given to the dome’s exterior and the unimaginative floor plans found inside.  We were having second thoughts about building a dome – if we couldn’t build a beautiful dome, we would just keep the home we had.  But after visiting the Eye of the Storm, Mark decided he could design a beautiful dome and enlisted the help of architect Jonathan Zimmerman and designer Robert Bissett. The trio’s collaboration on the Dome of a Home is proof that beautiful domes are possible.