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Foam Dome Homes as a Roof

June 29, 2010

So, it’s been awhile since my last post – my computer crashed during a thunderstorm and I lost most of my Sketch Up files but it’s not a big problem – it gave me the chance to rework some of my ideas with a fresh perspective.

My new wacky Sketch Up project – I have been interested in a company from Japan; International Dome House, that makes “Foam Dome Homes” (really – check out their video on their website – it’s super-plus good, giggle giggle )

So the idea behind this dome system is – you have expanded polystyrene pieces that snap together to form a dome and then the surfaces of the dome are plastered and treated to make them water proof. These domes can be built in a day – they are super strong – the structural material in the domes are insulation material so they are energy efficient and they are affordable ( they are not sold in North America yet though).  So if you don’t mind living in a home that looks like it was designed by anime architects than this home is for you ( I personally would love to live in a foam dome home that looks like it was designed by anime architects – cuel).

The problem with purchasing a foam dome home would be that such homes don’t  hold their resell value like a more traditional home here in North America. It’s not that they aren’t as good (or better) than traditional homes with a traditional roof – it’s because the home buying public isn’t interested in such homes on any mass market level on this side of the pond.  I still think that these homes are a brilliant idea and can be incorporated into a more traditional home design.  My idea is to use the foam dome as a roof. It would make great sense for homes that use “green” materials like straw bales or earth bag walls. If you have a design in which you can put up the roof first than the straw bales or earth bags walls will be protected from the elements during construction. Being light weight, such a roof would be a great option for a load bearing straw bale design.  An easy, quick construction time would lower the labor costs in the build process and would make a green home more economically feasible.

The model that I made uses an elongated dome design ( International dome house calls this design the “Long Dome”) as a roof for a structure that uses 3 20 foot shipping containers. The bottom of this dome roof flares out 5 feet – it is sits 2 feet in on the containers to give the first story a 3 foot over hang to block out the direct sunlight of the high summer sun and the overhang will protect natural plastered walls from rain. This design has rounded semi circle wall extensions on the East and West ends of the house.  There would be 3 or 4 levels  of  expanded polystyrene pieces that snap together with different lengths on alternate levels – first level 2 pieces second level 3 levels, this would add strength to the wall – no continues seam along the elevation of the wall.  These walls would be reinforced with re rod and wire mess and then you could add a masonry wall to the exterior.  I like the rounded ends because  – circles are stronger than straight walls – cold winds would blow around the wall and eliminate energy “nose bleeds”  – it provides the home with a mud room – and you could place a wood stove in this area ( so you don’t tract bark litter into the house) and it provides a good places to have a staircase up into the upper level with out having to cut into the roof of the container which would cause the container to lose some of it’s structural integrate.  I think the rounded walls give the house an elegant feel, like an old, turn of the century train station that you would find in an English countryside settling .

The great thing about this design is that all the expanded polystyrene pieces could be shipped in the containers that you would use to build the first story of the house as well as other house components.

Well I hope to be back with a new post sooner this time – until than here are some more pics of my 3 20 foot container house with long foam dome roof.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 8:54 am

    interesting piece for a future article. Any thought to how you would design the acoustics to provide optimum sound?

  2. June 30, 2010 9:22 am

    I haven’t thought of that yet Lance. I would guess the foam dome roof would have great acoustic properties for a recording studio. That idea brings to mind a straw bale dome recording studio that was built in Germany.

  3. Bob permalink
    July 7, 2010 9:14 am

    I have a flat top home built as part of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – this would be great to go from that flat top to a roofed space – going to have to keep my eye on this.

  4. Connimom permalink
    July 19, 2010 1:30 am

    Truly elegant! This has got to be the best conversion idea for shipping containers that I have seen yet.

  5. July 29, 2010 8:41 pm

    This house is appealing, as it reminds me of a Native American Indian Lodge, for some reason. (I think Craig knows my wife is a Creek… Indian… not the tributary.)

    I can see this housing style being used to build energy efficient, sustainable homes on the Res…

    Just drop it on a couple of ISBUs, and then start the dancing!

  6. July 29, 2010 10:13 pm

    Thanks Alex

    This model took a lot of work – I had the flue caused by chronic hay-fever ( I get it at least once every spring) so I had a couple of days of coughing and wheezing and playing around with ideas on Sketch-up. The model turned out better then I expected – I could of spent another couple weeks on this but why? I was just satisfying my curiosity of “what would that thing look like on top of that thing”. It turned out to be my second biggest blog draws ( the Martini-pod was the biggest).
    I would love to see a roof system like this manufactured – an easy to assemble, light weight and affordable prefab. roof system has become a bit of an obsession for me of late.

    I worked on the Walpole res. years ago ( across from Port Huron) building a large grain elevator system and I have many fond memories of the friends I’ve made there.

    Paul J. Belanger of Living Designs Systems in Alberta has a round straw bale house design with a grain bin roof that I’ve been interested in for a few years now. He’s built some as band meeting centers. I thought you might be interested in this as well.
    Well it’s back to the Bauhaus Barn – it’s taking many hours but it’s starting to look like something.

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