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Posts Tagged ‘sandbag dome’

Nine Day Dome

Nine Day Dome


In July, 2009 Guiding Star Creations co-created this 9 day workshop with hosts Eric and Nancy. This dome was built as a WWOOFer’s (farm stay) cottage for Eric and Nancy’s 14 acre organic farm. The dome has a 3m(10ft) interior diameter and the walls are 30cm(1ft) thick. This dome was fitted with features to adapt dome building to wet climates. Theses features include a rap-around eave, cold application bitumen (asphalt emulson) waterproofing, interior door buttressing, and a ruble trench foundation with perimeter drain (French drain). Other features include a clay floor, cantilevered stairs, loft (mezzanine floor) bed space, and wood stove heating. Many thanks to the workshop participants whose efforts and collaboration made this dome possible. For more information about attending or hosting a workshop please contact us at Guiding Star Creations.

Be sure to watch the video at the bottom of the page. It’s quite good.

Image credit Guiding Star Creations

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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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Ransom Ranch Dome

Ransom Ranch Dome

Marcia Gibbons at Ransom Ranch in Arizona chronicles her experience of building with earthbags. She has completed a beautiful sienna colored dome and a straw bale pumphouse with earthbag foundation.

Building pics
Final dome pics

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The Dometown Project

The Dometown Project

I’ve been corresponding with Richard Laurens who is developing a geodesic dome design that rests on earthbags and is covered in earthbags. His original plan was to use rammed tires to support the domes, but now he’s convinced earthbags are more practical. I’m encouraging him to use scoria-filled bags since he plans to build his designs out west near a source of scoria.

I’ll let Richard describe his project in his own words.

The Dometown project is a name I gave to my plan for a small cluster of dome shaped homes. I would start with one, and keep on building them. The center clear parts are greenhouses.

Buckminster Fuller’s original idea was a home that could be built anywhere for cheap; why not expand that idea into a “life pod” that can recycle water and grow its own food? The basic premise is this: We have a water source, an “eternal” power source (wind, water, or solar), and very contemporary and comfortable self-sustaining dome home. It’s just a very simple solution, and expandable.

The geodesic, or monolithic dome structure is not only appealing to the eye, it is efficient and cheap to build. The dome numbers and designs are nearly limitless, and four simple domes with a fifth dome in the center would make an excellent home with about 2500 square feet of space. That is a good sized home! I estimate working by hand with minimal tools. I can make this house in about a year for around $20,000.

The dome is a 4th degree electrical conduit pipe dome, bolted at the vertexes and welded. I then cover the dome with wire mesh and stack the bags on the outside. The windows are standard ones, placed into a ‘work horse’ type of sconce.

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Here’s an email from one of our readers (abbreviated for ease of reading).

I just had a few questions about building an earthbag home, and I hope you can get me pointed in the right direction. First off, I’m broke, so these questions pertain to me saving up for my future home. My dream home would need to be fairly round, or made up of several smaller domes. Finally, seeing as how I know nothing about construction and have to work most days, how would I ever learn to build one of these things, safely, without practicing on a few first? Even then, I don’t think I’d trust my work. Is there no one I could pay to help me construct it, who would have some experience with this?

My reply:
I’ve written quite a bit about low cost housing. Do a google search for “Owen Geiger” dirt cheap earthbag. Or “Owen Geiger” low cost earthbag.

There’s even a brief summary of the possibilities on my earthbag house plan blog.

By far the easiest, fastest way to build earthbag houses is with perlite or scoria (lava rock) in the bags. You can do a google search for Owen Geiger insulated earthbag for details.

The best dome method is illustrated by Kelly Hart’s free dome building guide. It’s super simple. Build an earthbag storage shed first if you’re unsure. These same structures can be grouped (clustered) any way you want and of any size up to about 20′ diameter.

Kelly Hart’s FAQ page will answer most any other questions for free.

With these methods I’ve just mentioned you can build very good houses at very low cost. The lightweight fill means you can do almost everything yourself at a fairly good pace. You can add one dome at a time. Hiring workers will blow your budget in no time. Slow and steady wins the game.

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One of the most practical structures on a small farmstead is a multi-purpose garden structure that can serve as a storage shed or cool pantry above ground, or as a root cellar or storm shelter below ground. You can build this multipurpose structure for about $300 using earthbag construction (bags filled with earth and stacked like bricks). And the skills you learn by building the dome will serve you well if you plan to build a larger earthbag structure — or even an earth home.

Here’s how the dome looks today.

Mother Earth News Earthbag Dome

Mother Earth News Earthbag Dome

Earthbag structures provide a cool space in summer and an escape from the cold in winter, which means this earthbag dome is well suited for many purposes. Depending on your needs, the most practical combination of uses might be a root cellar/cool pantry for daily use and a disaster shelter for emergencies such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

Click here to read the entire 9 page article and view 11 photos and complete drawings: Low-cost Multipurpose Minibuilding Made With Earthbags

Click here to read the free step-by-step How to Build an Earthbag Dome Instructable at Instructables.com.

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Owen Geiger has a new earthbag video showing how to build earthbag domes. It’s short, fun and lively, yet shows all the important steps.

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