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Posts Tagged ‘earth dome’

Ramirez Bari V01

Ramirez Bari V01


Ramirez Bari V01 AL2

Ramirez Bari V01 AL2


Take some time and enjoy architect Jose Andres Vallejo’s stunning Photostream site and website.

Previous blog post about Jose Andres Vallejo’s house designs

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Hello, I am building a superadobe dome here in Brazil and was wandering if I could ask you for some advice about safety issues. It is one dome only building with internal diameter about 24.6 ft wide (7.5 m) and we are using 19.7 inches (50 cm) wide poly bags. The estimated height we´ll be achieving soon for the closure of the dome is about 23 ft (7 m). The earth material is a mixture of clay, cement and sand to avoid infiltration because of the high rainfall here. We are planning to make a light dome on top, which will make us finish the dome in a wide internal ring about 6.5 ft
wide (2 m).

My concern is about people´s safety working and moving heavy material in height. I tried to install some hooks with safety ropes and people are using harnesses to move along the wall. We are using movable scaffolding inside the dome to distribute material along the rows, but it is still not working well. I am not sure how to guarantee the safety of the people working during the closure. Another concern of mine is about the structural integrity of a dome this wide, does it need temporary or permanent. anchoring or reinforcement of any kind? Do you know how can I find technical information I could use in this case? See attached photos (not shown here).
Andre

Owen:
Hello Andre, Your project looks pretty good to me. Just be careful though since you’re at about the maximum size dome for earthbags. I would have added some rebar down through the bags as the walls went up. It’s cheap ‘insurance’. If the dome is not perfectly symmetrical, then problems can develop. Be sure to read the article about the Om Dome. They had to tear down the walls because the shape was off just a little, so be careful. If you feel or see anything strange, be prepared to jump to the outside immediately.

Machinery of some sort is the most efficient way to move lots of soil high up on a wall. The next best way is probably a chain gang of sorts, where workers pass 2-gallon buckets from one person to the next. It’s safer to keep all the workers on the outside until the earthbag work is finished. You could use ladders instead of scaffolding if not enough scaffolding is available, or both. And don’t rush things. It does get quite dangerous up on the wall. That’s one reason I like a loft, because it creates a nice work platform. Next time consider embedding lots of short poles between the bags to support planks to stand on. Cut them off when finished. Good luck and please keep us posted.

Kelly:
Hi Andre, I read Owen’s advice and agree with what he suggests. One factor in determining the stability of the building is how much the wall moves or vibrates when being walked on. If it is shaking very much, then I would be more concerned than if it felt rock solid. All of the larger domes that I have made have stabilizing supports or vigas going across at loft level, and this has rigidified the structure considerably. You might want to add something like this for this reason alone, if you feel unsure about the stability. These vigas can also provide a nice platform for further work above to finish the dome.

In studying you photos, I also have a concern about the way that the large arched opening was formed. I see that you still have the supports for it in place, and this might be a good thing. Even though you are using cement stabilized fill, that top bag runs many feet almost horizontally, with practically no arch to it. This concerns me because it is easy for me to visualize that collapsing at some point, after the form is removed. Usually with long superadobe arches people make sure that the bags also arch, especially directly over the top. You can see this in the pictures at http://earthbagbuilding.com/projects/sandbagshelters.htm You might want to provide further solid reinforcement, such as with a steel frame, to help support this area of the opening.

This looks like a fun project, and will certainly be one of the largest earthbag domes that I know about. Do keep us posted on how it turns out.

Owen:
A few more thoughts. Are you using one of the recommended methods for earthbag domes?
Kelly Hart’s method
Two string-lines method
– Catenary dome: explained by Doni and Kaki in their book Earthbag Building – The Tools, Tricks and Techniques

Also, I suggest inspecting the dome about twice a day to see if any gaps develop between courses of earthbags.

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Clover Dome by United Earth Builders

Clover Dome by United Earth Builders


Located in Washington state, this structure is a beautiful artistic space and is nearing completion!

Located in Washington state, this structure is a beautiful artistic space and is nearing completion!


We are currently looking for earthbag projects in the Portland area. United Earth Builders has done many earthbag projects ranging from planters and retaining walls, to large scale commercial earthbag buildings. Check our portfolio at United Earth Builders. We are mainly looking to improve communities in all aspects and LOVE earthbag projects in all aspects. For more information check the site and send us an email.
James G

Terra-Form (website not working correctly for me)

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An earthbag dome will likely have a longer lifespan and require less plaster maintenance if it’s protected by a durable roof. (click to enlarge)

An earthbag dome will likely have a longer lifespan and require less plaster maintenance if it’s protected by a durable roof. (click to enlarge)


Attach rafters to braces that are embedded between courses of earthbags. (click to enlarge)

Attach rafters to braces that are embedded between courses of earthbags. (click to enlarge)


Nailers help hold braces in position. (click to enlarge)

Nailers help hold braces in position. (click to enlarge)


As discussed in a previous blog post the other day (see link below), dome roofs protect domes from moisture damage, shade the structure, reduce plaster work and capture rainwater. If you’re building in a rainy or snowy climate, your dome will likely have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance if you have a durable roof.

The drawings above show my recommended techniques using either wood poles or milled lumber. Wood poles are less expensive (or free), although they’re more tedious to work with. The basic ideas shown above can be altered to meet your needs. For instance, you could use purlins instead of roof sheathing. You could leave a gap between the roof and the dome for ventilation, add a skylight, gutters, etc.

Previous blog post on Roofed Domes

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Roofed dome by Superadobe Construccion Blogspot (click to enlarge)

Roofed dome by Superadobe Construccion Blogspot (click to enlarge)


Kentucky Dome Home roofed dome.

Kentucky Dome Home roofed dome.


Rob Wainwright's roofed dome in Australia

Rob Wainwright's roofed dome in Australia


Dome with embedded rafters at Blog Daum.net

Dome with embedded rafters at Blog Daum.net

Earthen domes evolved in deserts. Due in part to the beautiful and interesting shape, people started building earthen domes in rainier climates. But domes are more vulnerable to moisture damage than roofed structures. Without a roof, domes are exposed to the rain and snow. Plaster will eventually crack and when it does moisture can cause serious damage. One option is to build roofed domes as shown in the photos above.

Image source: Superadobe Construccion Blogspot
Image source: Kentucky Dome Home
Image source: Rob Wainwright dome in Australia
Image source: Dome with embedded rafters at Blog Daum.net

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The number one barrier to home ownership is affordability. Many people can’t afford a home made with expensive modern materials, and bank financing. That’s why earthbag building, and natural building in general, is becoming so popular. Why not build it yourself – in stages if you have to – with low cost materials and pay with cash as you go?

Let’s look at the materials required to build a small $300 earthbag dome at about $6/square foot. (Detailed building instructions at Instructables.com)
– Recycled or misprinted bags: Polypropylene bags are widely used for rice, sugar, fertilizer, animal feed and other uses. You can often find used bags at low cost, or you can order misprinted bags at reduced cost from a manufacturer. The standard size for earthbag building is 18”x30”. Mesh bags and burlap bags are others option if you can get them cheaply.
– Subsoil: This is usually available at or near the construction site. Some builders dig a pond and use the excavated soil to build their home. Excavating companies frequently have excess ‘fill dirt’ they’ll gladly sell for cheap, especially if they’re working in the area and you can reduce their trucking costs. Excessively clayey soils can be mixed with sand from a stream or river bed (often available free for the hauling). Overly sandy soils can be mixed with a bit of clayey soil to make more solid earthbags. Another source is sand and gravel producers, who often have ‘reject fines’ or ‘road base’ at low cost.
– Gravel: This is a good fill material for lower courses and can serve as a low-cost ‘gravel bag foundation’. Gravel and/or rubble from old driveways or sidewalks can be broken up and used in a rubble trench under the first course of bags.
– Barbed wire: This adds a lot of tensile strength, which is critical for domes. Most builders use new barbed wire between courses since it’s not a major expense for a small structure. But for those on a tight budget, using recycled barbed wire from old fences is another way to save money. (Make sure it’s in good condition, especially for domes.)
– Tamped earth floors and earth plaster: Experiment with your local soil and find a mix that is suitable. If it shrinks and cracks excessively, add sand. If it doesn’t adhere well, add clay. Adding chopped straw or other fibers will reduce cracking. Earth plaster can become a work of art, with almost any color imaginable. Your floor could be made simply by tamping the mineral subsoil that’s under the dome, although in most climates it’s advantageous to add insulation under the earth floor (such as scoria or pumice) and a moisture barrier.
– Doors, windows and vents: These can all be salvaged. Short pieces of pipe can be buried in the wall for ventilation. Insert some screened pipes low in the wall and some up high on different sides of the building for optimum ventilation. Some builders add operable skylights for greater ventilation and lighting. Arched window and door openings can be formed from barrels, tires or forms built of wood scraps. Consider using old wagon wheels or culvert pipe for window frames.
– Exterior plaster or living roof: Unless you’re living in an extremely dry desert, you’ll need to protect your structure from moisture damage. There are numerous options. Some builders used a soil cement mix to create a reptilian-like scaled surface. Most use lime or cement plaster. Another way is to put 6 mil plastic sheeting and earth over the dome and create a living roof with plants. Living roofs are very beautiful, but they do require a lot of time and effort, and a favorable climate.

Learn more by going to Instructables.com and by searching any of the above keywords in the search engine. We have hundreds of pages of free information that cover virtually every topic.

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This is our LAST EARTHBAG HOME TOUR of the year Nov. 5 at 9:30-11:00am, 12711 Ventris Rd., Garfield, Arkansas! Come see our earthbag home, cordwood chicken house, learn tips on how to live a more sustainable life in these tough times! Topics: filling bags, materials, adobe walls, dehydrating foods, homemade toothpaste & deodorant, mosaics, permits, rock-laying, energy plans, & much more! $7/adults, kids under 12 FREE! email majorsway@ymail.com or call 479-409-9115

Tour Earthbag Dome Home, Organic Garden, & Cordwood Chicken House
Location: 12711 Ventris Road, Garfield, Arkansas
Dates: Sat. Nov 5, 2011
Time: 9:30am-11:00am
Cost: $7/adult, kids under 12 free!
Reserve your space! 479-409-9115 or majorsway@ymail.com
Website: MajorsWay.org

Paul and Lisa Majors earthbag dome home in Arkansas

Paul and Lisa Majors earthbag dome home in Arkansas

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Michael’s Dome at Sacred Garden Sanctuary

Michael’s Dome at Sacred Garden Sanctuary


“Sacred Garden Sanctuary is an intentional community dedicated to sustainable farming and lifestyle, on 40 acres of land located near Douglas, Arizona.

We are currently planning to use a modified Cal-Earth (earth bag/tube) construction, after completing a trial dome. We plan to use a more inexpensive tubing material, which is used for onion sacks, rather than Cal-Earth “sandbag” tubing. Adobe domes will be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer mainly using passive solar and thermal mass to moderate day/night temperatures, which can vary up to 50 degrees in a 24hr period. This may be supplemented by wood stoves in the winter and evaporative cooling in the summer, if necessary. Progress on the dome has been slow due to other priorities, but we have done some more coating with the asphalt emulsion layer.

After putting on a partial “finish” coat of plaster, we have decided to rock-and-mortar the exterior instead of plastering. This will have the following advantages:
• Higher longevity
• Reduce maintenance to near-zero
• Add some further structural integrity
• Improved aesthetics”

Source: Sacred Garden Sanctuary

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Enviro Earthbag Dome (click to enlarge)

Enviro Earthbag Dome (click to enlarge)


The Enviro Dome plans have been tweaked over and over and the final version posted to my Earthbag House Plans site. This plan has always been one of my most popular designs.

An ideal starter home, this plan is easy to extend or even create large dome clusters. Compact, but highly livable, the Enviro Dome has everything you need. Two lofts add 235 sq. ft. extra space for sleeping, home office, living or storage. Additional storage options include space inside benches, a cedar chest at the foot of the bed, and an armoire or dresser north of the bed. The Enviro Dome is perfect for the beginner do-it-yourselfer who wants to build their eco-friendly home at the lowest possible cost.

Readers have asked for a larger two bedroom version and so I’ve created Enviro Dome 2. This design adds a second bedroom and closet on the right.

An optional larger dome behind the master bedroom is available if you want a walk-in closet and laundry.

Enviro Dome Fly-through

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