Monolithic Dome Construction: Challenges and Opportunities

Last week, we took a look at the monolithic dome, a very energy-efficient and disaster resistant form of building. Aaron Fown, who produced the video in that post, has published the second part of his interview (above) with Monolithic Dome Institute CEO David South, and delves into some of the challenges and opportunities created by this particular design paradigm.

One of the questions that occurred to me last week: the costs (environmental and otherwise) and benefits of building with concrete (a very energy-intensive material). David discusses that, as well as the hurdles he faces with potential buyers who want to finance the building. He also goes into detail about some innovative possibilities for the building type, including low-income housing (which the Institute’s already put into place on a small scale), and even indoor food production using a model similar toΒ Plantlab in the Netherlands.

Take a look, and let us know what you think about the monolithic dome concept. Is it as sustainable as, say, strawbale, cob, and other natural building materials? Would you want to live in one of these?

  1. Joe

    Below is some ideas I have put on the monolithic web site on their forum for domes and thin film solar and other ideas I have expressed- I think looking at this type of construction over the years I really want to build this.

    Yes it would be good to do an experiment on something like this to see if a net zero dome could be designed and built= one that is totally self sufficient for energy and heat:

    1. Overall passive solar design with wind turbine near dome and active solar panels or thin film on surface of dome grid interconnect with power company?).

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-ink … ustry.html

    On-going research for thin film as well as companies that sell thin film solar products — see– http://www.physorg.com/search/?search=Thin+Film+Solar
    2. Masonry Fireplace configured as a bake oven or Amish type stove in center of dome for heating (really get scared about putting hydronic heating is slab).
    3. The most energy efficient appliances that can be bought – there are refrigerators that are made that run at a fraction of electric as other ones on market
    4. Greenhouse for moderation of temps in summer and winter- built into design of dome and also produce food.
    5. Composting toilet system not sure since I have never used such a system
    6. Where to build??? Building codes problem in certain areas, availability of good water in others, costs of construction problem in some states.
    7. Why put up walls- why not use decorative Japanese screens to set off rooms that can be opened up when there are no visitors, and why not cabinets on wheels that could also be used as movable walls where rooms can be reconfigured.
    8. As simple a design as possible with quick couplers for water hookups and sewer hookups- unless you use composting toilets- as much as possible put water piping and sewer piping in straight line for easy access and repairs.
    9. IS it possible to build a dome on a high strength basement?
    10. Where to build ??? Struggling with that – plan to retire in 1-2 years and do all this..


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