Pacific Domes

A friend of mine recently purchased a 20-foot Pacific Dome to be used as a meditation and yoga space for her and her husband’s spiritual group. I was surprised at how light and airy it looked, yet it’s sturdy enough to withstand our winter winds. I thought it might make a great tiny house.

Their Pacific Dome is attached to a temporary insulated foundation and the entire structure took about four days to erect. Currently the dome does not have insulation, but they plan to order a special cover to be used in the winter. A solar fan is attached to the outside to provide air circulation during the summer. So far the structure has been very sturdy…even in our area’s notorious winds and heavy snows. Unfortunately, a few neighbors reported the dome to the local building department and the department now wants a set of structural calculations about the dome which will be supplied by the engineer at Pacific Domes.

Pacific Domes, located in Ashland, Oregon has been designing and building domes since 1980. They use the sacred geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller to create spacious, yet structurally sound domes of all sizes. Pacific Domes have been used for special events, weddings, meditation, yoga and healing spaces, schools, emergency shelters, eco-living, camping, and a large dome without the cover is even used for the infamous “Thunderdome” at Burning Man. Pacific Domes have also been used in Haiti and after Hurricane Katrina for temporary shelters and hospitals.

Many Pacific Dome customers purchase their domes to live in. The company offers different cover materials to allow for use in any climate. They have insulation packages available that, in conjunction with a wood stove or other heating system, make the dome a comfortable space in cold weather. They also recommend radiant heat in the dome floor. Larger domes can accommodate lofts, walls, and other partitions to create separate rooms. All interior construction should be free standing and self supported.

YouTube Video: Erecting a Pacific Dome

YouTube Video: Very elegant and liveable dome at Pacific Domes

The dome frames are made from galvanized steel. The steel, in conjunction with the geodesic design, creates an amazingly strong structure using a minimal amount of material. Geodesic domes are world-renowned for their strength and integrity. Depending on your situation and needs, they offer “heavy duty” 1.31”, through “extreme” 1.9”, frames in addition to the “standard” .92” frame. The dome covers are made of SunLite fabric or Tropical fabric. Insulation can be a liner with Reflectix or a thermoshield painted on the inside of the dome.

Three floor plans are offered and several foundation options. The roof, door, round windows and portions of the sidewalls can be replaced with screens for ventilation if needed. A solar fan is recommended to aid in ventilation, especially in damp areas.

Photos Courtesy of Christina Nellemann and Pacific Domes

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]


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Luna - April 11, 2011 Reply

“Unfortunately, a few neighbors reported the dome to the local building department and the department now wants a set of structural calculations about the dome which will be supplied by the engineer at Pacific Domes.”

I’m always confused by why people report things like this…

I love the hobbit house! it’s my dream home!

    Josh - April 11, 2011 Reply

    I’m always confused by why people report things like this…

    Some people are nosy, and some people have a notion that the rules should apply to everyone, and if they have to abide by them, so should everyone else. I don’t get it either. If my city ordinance says that you can’t have an inoperable car up on cement blocks sitting in your yard – that’s fine for everyone else, but I should be able to have one.

    I happen to think these things are pretty cool. However, if I paid a pretty penny for a nice house in a nice neighborhood, I wouldn’t want what looks like a giant tent next door to me either. I don’t understand why, if people want to do this sort of thing, they don’t have the good sense to find a piece of secluded, rural property on which to do it. If I were going to live in something like this (and I can imagine myself trying it, for awhile – maybe a yurt, I love those), I would ONLY want to do it in a secluded rural area. I wouldn’t think of trying it in some type of suburban area with neighbors, nor would I want to be that close to others.

      Anne - April 11, 2011 Reply

      Agreed, Josh… While fabric domes can stand a lot, only the interior fabric ones are considered safe in high winds {mostly because the ones in danger are those who occupy it- ie: they chose the risk. deborah, the domes that survived were permenant structure domes, not this sort).

      Teepees are safer in high winds and don’t have the equivilent fabric weight of a hot air balloon coming at you if they do blow away…

      Not sure why the hobbit house is shown, this company only does fabric domes.

        Josh - April 11, 2011 Reply

        I was curious about the Hobbit house too. I went looking around on their website to see what the connection was and wasn’t able to find anything. I guess we’re playing, “which one of these doesn’t belong.”

        I’m less concerned with the safety issue than the aesthetic issue – if someone wants to live in something that’s potentially dangerous, that’s their prerogative I guess. But it would be wise to do it somewhere that they’ll go unnoticed. I would think that just as much as someone who buys a nice house on a nice lot in a suburban neighborhood doesn’t want to see someone’s giant tent from their porch, someone who wants to live in a giant tent and live a more green and ecologically-friendly existence wouldn’t want a bunch of cookie-cutter suburban houses mucking up their view.

        It just seems like a complete lack of common sense to think you could put something like this up, that doesn’t meet any building codes, near a bunch of nice houses and get away with it.

Colleen J - April 11, 2011 Reply

The kitchen in this is to die for and I love all the light and space.

Pest Control Kansas City - April 11, 2011 Reply

I think this would make a perfect little place to live, insofar as they are placed in a non-windy location. That would be such a great little house.

deborah - April 11, 2011 Reply

About the only homes not destroyed in the hurricane blasts of the mid 90’s were dome homes.

I love the kitchen, too! My ideal! I would love to live in a dome home if I was younger and able to start over again.

Busybodies, miserable wretches, troublemakers, these are the kind of people who “report” to the authorities on anything and everything. May someone report on them someday!!!

Zaylinda - April 11, 2011 Reply

Wow, these look really cool! I was poking around on the Pacific Domes website, and caught a glimpse of their Bioenergy dome. Does anyone have any experience with it? If it actually works, it sounds like a really fantastic idea!

Galvin - April 11, 2011 Reply

I like the hobbit house one! How ridiculous would that be!

Nan - April 11, 2011 Reply

Christina, it looks like you live near me in New Mexico.

TM - April 11, 2011 Reply

I have a piece of land in Seaford , DE . It is consider rural area , most of them are mobile homes in this area ( out of the town limit ) however, the zoning & building still demand to have ” structural calculation ” of any kind …so it is tough whether you are in the rural too ( I guess they want to collect fees and being nosy at the same time ) Not to many rural area now a day let you do or build whatever you want …they claim : It is for your own safety ! TM.

    Josh - April 11, 2011 Reply

    I’m sure all rural land has building codes too. But, you’re a lot less likely to have a problem if you can’t be seen by neighbors. I don’t know what a piece of land in a rural area of Delaware consists of, but I’m talking about rural where you can get back off the road away from prying eyes. I grew up on a farm in Iowa. From my dad’s house, I can walk west for a mile and a half and still be on our property. About the first half mile of that is woods and a creek. I’m sure I could hide one of these away in the woods without anyone bothering me!

      alice - April 11, 2011 Reply

      Probably help a bit if it wasn’t such a glaring white. Not to say you’d have to go Mossy Oak camo or whatever but it wouldn’t hurt to be more earth toned to blend in better with the background.

        Josh - April 12, 2011 Reply

        Yeah, I had definitely thought that as well. I’d paint it olive drab, maybe put some spots of brown here and there. The neighbors wouldn’t mind it being out there. They would only be able to see if it were near enough to the line of their property that they could see when checking on their cattle. I’d only be worried about the aerial imagery that the assessor’s office uses to look for new construction to be assessed.

          TM - April 12, 2011 Reply

          Hello Josh .
          I never been in Iowa , if your dad ‘s land is longer than one mile …it is huge . My land is 10 minutes from De ‘s court house in Georgetown near beaches such Lewes beach , Rehoboth beach , Dewey beach …( 10 minutes from planning & zoning dept too ) The road is very quiet in my land …but the planning and zoning has all kind of rules and regulation for Tax ‘s purposes ( like Glen said ) …whether is a little tiny place or a normal size place …( and yet , they accept mobiles home easily ) so I still have not had any idea what to build in my land …it just sits there with septic and well for now . ( I have to agree with Mr Walt …if it is not worth to re_sale …then I don’t want to have it ) because in this economy …money is tough every where and I can’t waste it for a dome that it would look like a play ground or doll house , use it for a bit then it has to be destroyed because it is not practical in this freezing cold area with 2 ft of snow or more in the winter , every year . But it is still good to look at . Thanks . TM.

          Josh - April 12, 2011 Reply


          Our farm is located in a river basin, so it’s an irregularly shaped “block.” Normally, the roads follow one mile squares (640 acres). That’s also why there’s so much forest around the farm. You don’t need thousands of acres of farmland with hundreds of acres of non-tillable land on it, I’m just saying that if you’re going to get away with living under the radar in an unapproved structure, you need a remote location in which to do it. There are plenty of people who do it, but they stay away from others in doing so, so as not to give anyone any reason to raise a fuss.

          But yeah, If I were going to build a tiny house, our farmland has plenty of places that would be perfect.

Walt Barrett - April 12, 2011 Reply

There was a huge dome movement back in the Sixties and Seventies. They ran into the same proplems. It may not make sense to mix Domes in with upscale homes no matter how you feel about it. Save time and money by finding an area where the law allows it. Always remember that in most cases conventional homes have a higher resale value, and who wants to live among neighbors that despise you? Is it worth it? I always liked the idea, but the lack of resale value in New England turned me off. I am not against them though.

Zack - April 12, 2011 Reply

If you have a look at the ecopod in Scotland ( you can get a different picture. Since Easter 2010 they have it permanently erected and use it as boutique hotel. They use a Zendome that comes with all statical calculations from the beginning plus certification that it resists wind up to 11 Beaufort. So the ok from local authorities was easy to get…

    Anne - April 13, 2011 Reply

    I remember seeing these a few months ago online and being very impressed (and with the view)… Didn’t the designer use a new locking system he developed (ie: not just tied to a frame)? Proving that domes can be made safe with the proper engineering ability. Thanks for the link, Zack. It went to my favorites 😉

Glen Aldridge - April 12, 2011 Reply

I am all for these alternative homes afterall isn’t the objective to use less material & energy?
You don’t get much more simplistic in material use than a Dome. I am so against the B.S. from the Zoning Bodies because their first priority is to make sure you are paying Taxes into your local jurisdiction Not whether or not you pose a Hazard to yourself. Freezing to death in a Tent is a Hazard but that’s OK because no taxes are due. As for the neighbours – I suspect their problem is more to do with having a very dull life in their McMansions. So much for “Land of the Free.”

Our Tiny House - April 12, 2011 Reply

So what is the price range? I understand it can vary, but I’m disappointed when articles do not mention this important detail…

    Josh - April 12, 2011 Reply

    I was wondering that myself. The website says only “Contact us for pricing.” I think that means, “too expensive to tell you right here, we’d rather have you on the phone before breaking the news to you.”

      Justin - April 13, 2011 Reply

      Hello All,
      thought I would drop a quick note regarding Pacific Domes and why they do not post their prices… Which are in fact quite reasonable.

      1. They are the dome manufacturer, so many times the domes they make are customized to the client’s needs.

      2. The cost of material is ever-changing, and they don’t always source material from the same place. When ordering material for clients, it’s about whoever offers the highest quality at the most reasonable priced. And occasionally, the company that is manufacturing the raw material will have special discounts or deals on certain material, and Pacific Domes has been known to work with people and will directly pass that discount on to the client.

      3. Pacific Domes have been in business for over 30 years, one of the main reasons for this is the quality of their product, workmanship, and philosophy. Pioneering the design for membrane covers over Buckminster’s Geodesic Dome. Through the years PD has had some competition pop up. Not that there is anything wrong with this(the more dome homes the better)but there is also the business aspect to consider. Pacific Domes sets the bar in the dome manufacturing world. If their prices go online, then that will give all the other dome companies something to go off of… the only problem with this is: Identical LOOKING product, made from lower quality material, at just a couple bucks cheaper(this happens a lot in america). So, PD keeps their prices flexible, for their clients only, and lets the other companies do their own thing.

        Our Tiny House - April 14, 2011 Reply

        Understanding that, what is wrong with giving just a range of prices? Do they really think their potential customers are not smart enough to understand costs can go up and customization changes the price? If this info was really that valuable to their competitors, couldn’t they just impersonate a customer to get the prices anyway?

Benjamin - April 12, 2011 Reply

First of all, note that this article isn’t about a home, it is a meditation space so that shouldn’t be too offensive to neighbors. Also note the background in the first photo. This isn’t tract housing with small backyards; apparently the homes in that vicinity have very large amounts of land around them. I agree that it should pass structural inspection, but I don’t see how anyone could use the word blight.

As for camouflage painting, recall that the walls are translucent and I’d really prefer to seeing white walls when I’m inside than military or tent-like colors. Especially if I were meditating.

    Zack - April 12, 2011 Reply

    At the ecopod in Scotland the membrane is opaque not translucent, so there is no shining through of the outside camouflage. You can see some inside pics on their website gallery.

Truman Anderson - May 13, 2011 Reply

I really enjoyed reading your blogs and have some photos of a Bio Energy Dome recently erected in Tuscon, Arizona. Here is the url for a photo of the interior showing the grow tank and a hydroponic tray:

bio energy dome

Ron - January 21, 2012 Reply

Sure is a lot of negative vibes here.
I think the frames from pacific are really good but the cover is expensive.I think dome buildings are much safer than your typical stick and stucco home,i also like to avoid thirty year morgages.
Im researching what to put on a property and
the codes allow mobile homes wich i think are crappy death traps,they burn fast and have nasty air inside(formaldihide warnings)As long as a home of any sort is kept up im ok with it.

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