Eco-Dome

by Kent Griswold on March 25th, 2008. 34 Comments
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CalEarth’s Eco-Dome can be built out of nothing more than dirt, barbed wire, and the same kind of polyethylene bags used to make sandbags to contain floods. The house will probably last longer if you mix some cement with the dirt, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

The bags come in the form of a continuous tube, and the house is constructed of layers of dirt-filled “snakes,” with barbed wire laid between them to keep them from moving.

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This 400 sq. ft. home is one of CalEarth’s plans that can be built from the dirt on your land.

ecdmplanweb.gif

It’s 21st-century adobe: faster and easier than traditional adobe construction, because you don’t have to make and dry individual bricks. This construction technique can be learned quickly by anyone, and is about the cheapest possible way to build lasting shelter. But these are by no means temporary buildings; they are so robust that they meet California building codes.

Plans and a DVD and bags are available at the CalEarth’s Eco-Dome web site.

Eco-Dome video of the construction:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMNzoWkXTtc

Eco-Dome pictures of the structure.

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March 25th, 2008and filed in Dome, Earth/Cob
Tags: Dome, Earth/Cob
34 Comments

34 Responses to “Eco-Dome”

  1. david moss says:

    Where is this house located?

  2. Kent says:

    Hi David,

    This dome is located at the Cal-Earth Institute Site: 10177 Baldy Lane, Hesperia CA 92345. You can also learn more by going to the site at: http://www.calearth.org/EcoDome.htm

    Kent

  3. jean says:

    Hello Dave,

    How long do the bricks (or snakes) take to dry? Can the snakes be made shorter (1/2 the length) so a woman could
    carry and build this dome dome home?

    • Sarah Jane says:

      To answer your question Jean, For female builders You can get scoria (volcanic rock) to fill the bags. Scoria is super light, insulating for cold climates. Or alternately, fill the bag 1/3, place bag and fill the rest of the bag in place.

  4. Kent says:

    Hi Jean,

    According to the photos on the ordering page you fill the tube as you go. Go to this link http://www.calearth.org/ProductsServices/bagorder.htm you should be able to handle it.

  5. austin says:

    what is the wind scoop for?

  6. kristina says:

    hello,
    i’m also interested why is wind scoop for? thnx

    • Bardamu says:

      Ventilation.

      These are apparently common structures in deserts in parts of Iran and Africa, as described in works by Nader Khalili and Hassan Fathy.

      Apparently they operate both with wind and with convection currents. Khalili discusses them at fair length somewhere, but I have leant out my copy.

  7. esther says:

    is that type of house be in a tropical humid climate (rainy and cyclons)?

  8. logan says:

    how long does it take to build one

  9. logan says:

    ok so how many hours would it take to build the 800 sq foot one with 10-12 people?

    • Kent says:

      I personally don’t have the answer, you will need to get in contact with the people who have made them. Please see reply above and let us know what you find out.

    • Bardamu says:

      Apparently it varies, but they felt safe with 10 weeks from soil analysis to a complete structure for one residence consisting of two of these and allowing another ten for internal details. The crew apparently had 5-7 people most of the time, including one trained person. My understanding is that no mechanical power was used on site other than the vehicles coming and going with equipment, personnel, and the very few supplies.

      So I would say 5 weeks plus whatever kind of detailing you wish.

      Each central dome was 15′ in diameter. With limited experience, I find that the spaces created by 9′ and 10′ domes quite to my taste. These are considerably faster. Apparently even a smaller crew can put a dome can go up within a week.

  10. Marco says:

    will this hold up in snow? rain? Need to know. Would like to build one.

  11. Bardamu says:

    They hold up fine in snow and rain. Flooding requires some care: proper choice of land and, in some circumstances, retaining walls would be necessary, as with any building. Finished over with lime plaster and painted, they’re as watertight as the next building.

    The wind scoop is for ventilation, in lieu of expensive and energy-expensive fans and AC units.

    The size of the bags should not change whether or not a woman can participate in construction, principally because you will NOT want to move the bags far once they are filled. You put the bag more or less where it will be, then move the earth to it.

    I have read estimates of 4 rice bags/hour for 2 people working together. These aren’t the long tubes you see in the picture, but 50 and 100-lbs rice bags. If you can count out the length of the bags, then figure about 7″ per bag-row, that should give some idea.

  12. jonas says:

    sir how much it’s cost to built ano dome house? u have company who built here in philipphine?

  13. Luigi Fulk says:

    I just found this blog recently when a friend recommended it to me. I have been an avid reader ever since.

  14. Larkfleet says:

    Looks like a great little place, cant help thinking of Star Wars tho when I look at them pictures.

  15. Laura says:

    Has anyone seen any of these built (and lasting) in the Midwest? My son wants to build one here in Michigan, and I can’t see them lasting through our rains, let alone our winters.

  16. jen says:

    i would like to build one or more in england and wondering whether they will withstand the rain and cold winters here..

  17. Stephen M says:

    my mother is interested in building one of these homes. realistically i do not think they are as easy as they advertise and i was wondering if anyone knows where i can see some reviews on them that are not affiliated with the designers? Also is their a list of states that this home would meet code with? any help would be great, thanks Stephen M.

  18. Moi says:

    Hey, thanks. Can it be made bigger than 400 sf and what is the cost psf? Serious about this. Also, how safe is it?

  19. Kristen says:

    This house looks like it belongs in Mos Eisley!

  20. zeus says:

    estoy muy interesado pero… quiero saber si estas cúpulas resisten temblores/sismos?

  21. FYI I have both 14 & 18” 2000 hr, UVI stabilized, woven pp tubing available for sale at $0.13 & $0.16/lf sold in 6000ft rolls sold by the roll only. I have sent these rolls nationwide and into Canada with nothing but thumbs up from everybody. They are perfect for Earth Bag building. FOB my facility in Southern California.
    Thanks for your time.
    Steve Villa Cell# 949-338-5978

  22. fluffybunnypuff says:

    good job.
    here’s my design:
    house interior 7x8wide, 7tall
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/99405731@N05/9371779389/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    sml house interior 6x8wide,3.5tall
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/99405731@N05/9374561476/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    house garden
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/99405731@N05/9374544392/sizes/l/in/photostream/

    optional: bathroom and kitchen slide over on top of the bed, to compact to 6foot wide, as a trailor for traveling, than unslide it and open it when its time to live in it.
    optional: design so that electric and plumbing could be put into it later
    to live w/o plumbing and electrical built in: sml solar panel, heating blankets, space heater, air conditioner, rain water collection, hand pump well, sml portable water purifier that purifys sewage haz waste and salt water. go the the bathroom outside in a compost/humanure heap or scattered around in large area not where it wont contaiminate water

    dont build below 40feet above sea level, flood zones, or high-risk weather hazard zones

    do you like my design? suggestions? would you consider building or living in my design? fluffybunnypuff@yahoo.com

  23. david says:

    This is truly such a great and innovative idea. I wonder if this type of structure works in just these desert types of environments. And I bet that there is a market for this type of lodging in the ecotourism industry.

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