Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dome of a Home

I saw the HGTV presntation on the Dome Home built out in Pensicola, Florida.

From a bespoke engineering perspective its amazing, a sphere has much more intrinsic strength than a traditional home. The building is built by inflating a large bladder and spraying first foam insulation and then concrete onto it. The concrete is reinforced with rebar that is laid between shooting the foam and the concrete.

From a production engineering point of view the design has tremendous strengths and major disadvantages. The plus side is that raising the bladder, shooting the concrete can all be automated. Building the house frame can potentially become an entirely automatic process.

The down side is that cost savings on raising the structure are likely more than offset by the additional costs of finishing the inside. The curved space means that all furniture resting against the outside walls is going to have to be custom work.

One application that comes to mind would be for monumental public buildings. The building for the Web Science Institute for example, what better than a Sphere?

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