Are Dome Homes the Shape of the Future?

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Japanese Dome House

Traditionalists may not have taken to the idea of dome shaped homes – yet – but with drastic changes in weather and tremendous increases in earthquake activity, could these oddball homes be the shape of the future?

By Susanna Sisson

Japan is one country that has embraced the dome home and one company claims to have developed a fourth generation building material (following wood, iron and concrete) that has many benefits over traditional materials. Japan Dome House, Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture has taken polystyrene foam and changed the way it is manufactured. They have eliminated the use of formaldehyde and have added antioxidant material which is kneaded into the foam. In addition they developed a process which minimizes the absorption of oxygen and makes the foam denser by expanding the styrene monomers only 20 percent as opposed to the normal 50-60 percent. This process greatly increases the strength of the material.

People began to take note of dome homes when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the city of Kumamoto in Kyushu Prefecture killing 49 people and injuring 3,000. The earthquake displaced 44,000 people who had to be evacuated due to damage and fires.

What became unquestionably significant was that 480 domes in the small health resort of Aso Farm Land were completely undamaged.
The trend in recent years has been to downsize to tiny homes. However, dome homes, while still small have an advantage over other small dwellings.

Dome homes are extremely cost efficient not only from the material standpoint but also from the shipping aspect. They are extremely lightweight and compact so several complete homes can be shipped together. Construction costs are almost zero because a few people can put the shell together within hours or days and it does not require deep pylons or beams since the structure is self-supporting.

Wind, Fire, Termite and Pest Resistant
The very shape of a dome is wind resistant because it has no corners or straight edges which create turbulence, so these homes can withstand hurricane force winds which simply roll over the entire structure. In the final stage of processing fire retardant material is used to coat the homes making them fire proof. Domes are also not food for insects so having to worry about treating for termites or dealing with the damage isn’t a concern. Unlike iron there is no oxidation or rust. Although some people use permaculture to cover domes, the incidence of pests is very low because the earth is too shallow for pests like moles to tunnel.

Energy saving
The material used to build these dome homes means it does not require additional insulation because the dome itself has high thermal insulating properties. The interior shape maintains good air flow due to its spherical structure. There is less surface area, less volume, and a convection type flow of air. The dome isn’t a new idea. The Inuit people of Alaska and Canada have used this structure for centuries. Their homes were called Igloos and could maintain a perfect temperature year round.
Domes aren’t cookie cutter type homes. They can be manufactured in different shaped modules such as an elongated module or the traditional round module and the can be combined for a completely custom home.

Environmentally “Green” homes
Domes don’t require deforestation since they aren’t built from wood and this is a huge selling point especially among younger buyers who are environmentally conscious. Many dome companies now use “concrete” made from hemp to cover the exterior of the domes. The product is called hempcrete. Dome home exteriors can “blend” into the environment. Domes can be covered with permaculture making them essentially part of the planet. In the deserts of Sedona, Arizona, domes are designed to look like the natural adobe and one couple has decorated the exterior of their multi-modular dome homes with sacred crop circles. In Florida one might find a more tropical design.

Whatever your personal style or preference in where to live, dome homes may be the perfect solution to an affordable and durable home.

Japan Dome House
Sacred crop circles

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