The Dome 2002 1988-2016: 28 years of making "saving energy" a lifestyle

The Outside

 

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 In the photo you can see the geodesic dome from the south side. The sun, in the northern hemisphere, appears to travel across the southern sky. This is due to the rotation of our planet but for your concern it is important to know where the sun is so you can accept its energy. See all the glass triangles. They were built on the south side while no glass windows went on the north. So the dome-home sucks in solar energy on the south and prevents loss by insulating on the north.

 

 

 

 

 

To hold on to all that free energy for the cold nights I’ve used small ponds of water as well as plants and any water bottle that can hold a gallon or more. Water is the best heat sink and since containers are readily available, fill them with water and place them where the sun does shine.

Under the large glass array of triangles a.k.a. “the eagle” is the greenhouse. This consists of eight 4 by 8 sheets of glass which span 100’ around the south side of the structure. Though it is built outside of the dome-home it does lend to the solar input in the winter due to its southern orientation. Inside the greenhouse is also a 4’ by 2’ poured cement wall as well as the cordwood wall used to support the dome. These both act as a heat sink as well.

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 The greenhouse is multi-functional, serving as a firewood storage area, work shop, tool shed and a sitting area complete with koi pond. Here’s a photo.

 

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The Front Doorway

 Let’s go inside. We’ll enter by the front door. About one third from the left on the first outside photo you can see it as a vertical white rectangle, just to the left of the greenhouse.

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This photo shows the rock work done over the cordwood wall. The front door is not in the photo but is just to the right. The quote engraved in the 330 lb. rock is from a cartoon story I wrote called Psychopathological Entomology. It was an introduction to one of my books. Tamnut is the character in the story. His name is an anagram, see if you can unscramble it. The triangular window is a one, one, square root two, named the Pythagorean window. 

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As you walk in you enter a room with a sun burst on the floor. It was made from hundreds of cuts of ceramic tile. You can see a cozy wood-coal burner over by the chimney, some stained glass and lots of rocks. It is called the log room for the cordwood wall is visible everywhere. The cordwood construction consists of 18” logs which are set in mortar so that the rings of the logs are seen on the outside as well as the inside.

Did you notice my shadow in the photo? The sun is always working for you. And it’s so quiet and yet powerful and even magical. No wonder people worshipped it.  

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The Inside Walls

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Here also is an early photo of the cordwood wall being built. You can see how doorways and windows are easily set.

The wood was already there waiting for me to cut, peel, dry and mortar together. Rocks and trees are free building materials for those willing to put forth the effort. This dome-home is in Orange county, NY, about 30 miles north of NY city. The neighboring county is called Rockland and once you start digging you know why.

 

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If you look carefully at the photo of the log room you can see large timbers, actually 10” by 10” oak, reaching 9’ high about one-fourth in from either side of the photo. These are two of the legs of the table that supports the second floor joists. Imagine a four-legged table 9’ tall in the center of a 120’ circular cordwood wall. Now connect 18’ 2by10 planks on their edge from the wall to the table. Having them radiate out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel or the rays of the sun. Then cap with a geodesic dome 40’ in diameter and voila! one dome-home.
 
 
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The Audio Room

 Let’s go into the next room, the AV (audio-visual) room.

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Here is the area where I spend most of my time making music, watching basketball, as well as enjoying the fire in this fireplace. There are two towers (chimneys) going from the ground up to a height of 34’. My heat needs are met mostly by the wood stove in the kitchen. Burning wood for heat is also solar and renewable, for those not afraid to work. “We don’t do it because it is easy, we do it because it is hard.” JFK

Since the AV room is on the north side there are no windows and this room and the adjoining room, the kitchen, are heavily insulated in order to trap the heat. Any escaping heat goes to infrequently used living areas and eventually works its way upstairs to the lofts where I sleep.

 

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The Kitchen

 

 Let’s complete the circle and enter the kitchen.

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Here’s 2 pictures, one of the kitchen, the other of the wood stove. When building the chimney for the wood stove I didn’t realize that this is where I’d be spending most of my fire watching time. As it turned out it is much more efficient to burn wood for your heat in an air tight stove. The stove is lit in October and literally burns until April. It became easier to just open the door to the stove and drink your coffee or wine there than to start a fire in the open fireplace or the other stove. So far the coal burning has been unsuccessful.

 

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There was also an attempt to bring warm air from the top of the dome by way of duct work to underneath the kitchen and the AV room floors where I put perforated pvc pipe and a heat sink of rocks. I never had good results so I’ve removed the duct work and headed in a different direction.

The downstairs is about 1200 square feet and the upstairs is the same. Actually it is a little too big for solo occupancy, so if you visit, pardon the leaf litter from all the plants. So let’s go upstairs. The downstairs is more of a retro-pioneer look with the logs and the stone but upstairs is the future with the dome and the glass. A nice hybrid, no? Here is a picture on top of the stairs and it reveals one of the two towers (chimneys) as well as a pond and some water containers. In the background you can also see the aluminum wall for reflection of solar input to the center of the dome.

 

The dome-home was totally built according to “Form follows Function”, so when people ask what kind of house it is, they expect a description of convention, i.e. ranch, split level, etc. But the dome-home was not built to speculate its worth, it was built to provide for the future. And even though the property itself is worth over half a million dollars on the market, to me it is just a piece of the world I’m allowed to manipulate into my legacy.

 

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The Framework

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This is an early photo of the eagle, the area where the sun comes in. It consists of 22 triangles, now glazed of course. You can also see the triangles composing the rest of the dome. These other triangles have been filled with insulating foam and sheet rocked over. Actually the dome is 5 domes of different construction, consisting of plywood skin, 2 by 6 skeleton, shingles and flashing, foam insulation and sheet rock. The strongest structure 5 times.

 

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Here’s a picture bounced off of a convex mirror. It can give you an idea of the 160 triangles that make up the dome. Later, we went and supported the plywood skin from sagging with over 500 internal supports. Notice the twin towers have not been built yet.

 

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Here is a recent picture of the eagle. When the tropical plants started to thrive I knew I was on to something. I have banana, papaya, lemon, orange and just about every variety of love plant (Kalanchoe) plus way more.

 

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The Bathroom

 

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Here’s the bathroom capped with a pyramid. Notice all the water bottles. There is also a curved wall faced with polished aluminum sheets in order to reflect the solar input toward the center. I always wanted a waterfall in the center on the south side of the two towers. My son is trying to talk me out of it but I think it would be multi-functional as a heat sink, a home for fish providing a supply of natural fertilizer for the plants, humidity, as well as being moving artwork.

 

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I always wanted a toilet in the bushes, maybe to remind me of the 2 years I spent in the Fiji Islands. At one time I had 62 plants in here. Now I get by with only 35.

 

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Adjoining the bathroom is Saratoga, a hot-tub room simulating an outdoor pond. With salts and oils and 104 degree temp. water bubbling away, some new age music filling the dome, candles burning throwing shadows all over the wall-ceilings that are the dome, it takes you to another place. Here’s a closer view of the tub. Outside of Saratoga there is another bed room and 2 lofts for sleeping.

 
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