Saturday, January 22, 2011

Monolithic Domes

There are 2 main types of Domes in common use in the US. The Geodesic Dome and the Monolithic Dome. Geodesics are the sectional homes popularized in the writings of Buckminster Fuller. To quote Wikipedia on Geodesics; "geodesic dome is a spherical or partial-spherical shell structure or lattice shell based on a network of great circles (geodesics) lying on the surface of a sphere. The geodesics intersect to formtriangular elements that have local triangular rigidity and also distribute the stress across the entire structure. When completed to form a complete sphere, it is known as a geodesic sphere. The term "dome" refers to an enclosed structure and should not be confused with non-enclosed geodesic structures such as geodesic climbers found on playgrounds".  They can be made of wood or other material and bolted together in sections to form an ultra strong structure.
Karma Dome in Construction
Rounded dome homes survive extremes of weather like hurricanes and other storms better than flat walled boxed structures. They tend to be more efficient to heat and cool (though geodesics like the one above must be carefully shingled or sealed at the many edges). Monolithic domes (I am using the Monolithic term here to describe any formed or poured dome) are usually one formed over a mold and thus one piece - this avoids many edges of the geodesic.

We drove north from Livingston a few weeks ago to Italy Texas, the home of Monolithic Domes. Bruco, the Centipede, is very visible from the freeway between Austin and Dallas.
Bruco the Centipede

Bruco is actually the "factory" where monolithic makes the forms that are inflated and then covered in concrete to make their domes.

We spent the afternoon walking the grounds and looking at the several type of domes they had on the grounds:
This was the main office and had 3 large interior sections several smaller ones.

The main office complex with the rental office dome in the far background:

Chaca Casa
This is Chaca Casa the main home on the grounds next to the office it is the home of the founder of Monolithic Domes Institute, David South.
Living room of Chaca Casa
Chaca Casa is 2 connected domes with about 2400 sq ft of living space. The photo above shows the living room of the main dome with 6 foot windows overlooking a patio and small pond. The kitchen is to the leftt with a connected pantry and office. There is a bedroom to the far left.
The patio. Entrance to the patio is through the foyer between the domes.
Exterior of Living room.
Main Dome Bedroom
The garage at Chaca Casa
The garage was a small dome in front of the porch between the 2 domes. The door to the garage slides horizontally to open and close.
This dome was on the grounds but was a privately owned dome and not available for tours. To my way of thinking this is the perfect set-up: A main dome for living/kitchen area, a bedrooms dome for sleeping, and a workshop/studio dome for projects.
In addition to the dome factory, offices and training facilities the Monolithic people rent out these small dome as cheap apartments - less than $500 a month including utilities. They have a waiting list.
Back of the Apartments
In addition to the regular apartments there are duplexes.
Pre Fab
They also sell pre-fab cabins ready to be put on a truck and set down anywhere from a mountain top to the seashore. They are not anchored and can be moved at any time.
Cabin Interior
Add some doors and windows, plug it into a power source, and you have viable shelter anywhere.

After seeing these first hand we are still considering domes of some kind for when we settle down and quit wondering. If you see Bruco the Centipede driving south form Dallas be sure to stop in and broaden your horizons!

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