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Small Domes
This three-page how-to shows the steps used in building Riceland, a 14' diameter earthbag/papercrete dome. This prototype dome could serve as a model for emergency shelters, cabins, studios, garden sheds, etc. It should work well in earthquake-prone areas and places subject to flooding, winds, and hurricanes. It could be used as quick housing for people made homeless by natural disasters.
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 Low-Cost Multipurpose Minibuilding for about $300 using earthbag construction. This was written by Owen Geiger and is excerpted from The Mother Earth News.
The Hermit's Dome I ran across a web site that advertised building emergency shelters out of sandbags. I was quite intrigued by the concept and decided to try to build one for myself. My daughter was not too enthused about the idea. She didn't think that an 81-year-old man with a bad back should take on that kind of task, although she knew it was no use to try talking me out of it.
We made a 9-foot 6-inch diameter flexible form rammed earth structure for meditation purposes. We call it A Meditation Kiva, a hut, a dome, a wonder. We felt the deep connection to earth and people throughout history as we filled the bags and slapped on the staw and clay plaster. How peacefully meditative it was to work with this medium, without mechanization or complicated tools and sophisticated know-how!
Kaki Hunter and Doni Kiffmeyer describe how they built their Honey House. The merits of "Flexible Form Rammed Earth" are in its use of cost-effective materials, simple construction methods and the durable resistance to the ravages of fires, hurricanes, flooding, termites and, as Nader Khalili has proven in Southern California, earthquakes.
The OM Dome My inspiration for earthbag building was on the beach in Thailand. I was pondering the creation of a sound temple and looking for local building materials. While on the beach I watched fishermen fill used woven poly bags with sand and stack them into a retaining wall. Epiphany! I remembered a research paper I did in college on earthen building and Nader Khalili.
At Terrasante Village, in the fall of 2000, our first experiment with earth was a simple, partially subterranian adobe-in-a-bag (aka earthbag) 12 foot circular structure with interior ferrocement retaining wall below grade. We called this EarthDome House. Material for the bag walls was excavated from the interior space and the walls were stuccoed with 1" chicken wire mesh for extra strength.
Featured are the Earthbag Domes of Akio Inoue of Tenri University, Japan. He assisted building these on the university campus, at an earthquake site near Jamnagar, India, and in Entebe, Uganda. These domes are being considered for use as refugee shelters in the region, because they provide good protection from bullets, fire, wind, and rain.
Building an earthbag dome describes hows this 4 meter diameter dome was built at a sustainability education center in Australia. Some of the unique features integrated into the design of the dome include: a rubble trench footing containing a French drain, appropriate passive solar design, rammed earth flooring and a living roof.
Angel's Dome in Mexico was built using volcanic stone as fill material, barrels as window forms, and has a small loft. There will be a skylight at the top, and the windows feature eyebrows. It has a nice curved buttress for the entryway.
I have now almost finished my first sand bag dome... Murrong Gunya (sand house). It was a great experience, however lonely, as I moved over 25 tonnes of sand by hand mixed it with cement and put it in the bags myself. I am excitedly happy with the result thus far.    The dome was built at a significant Aboriginal heritage site on the beach at Sandon Point south of Sydney, Australia. 
A Little Dome in Durban, South Africa The boys really liked to learn, though some prefer to learn one aspect and then keep doing that. It seems that in each place only one or two have the mental makeup to really try to absorb everything from A to Z. The brothers who were building got more and more inspired when it was nearing completion and in the end we finished a early.
Four  Dome Cottages in Thailand would provide a better standard of acommodation for the volunteers. The training and building went well with so many people involved. A few had specially come to do the training and others from the Burmese refugee community were very keen to aquire these new skills. The children just had great fun and in the end a house to claim as built by them.
QUSAYR AL-JAWASREH, designed by Kikuma Wantanabe, is a Community Center for the Al-Jawasreh Village, located in South Shounah near the Dead Sea in Jordan. It is a public facility open to the local community, where educational and vocational programs are provided.
New Zealand Hermitage
We've decided to "start small" and build an earthbag dome sauna. This will give us some practice with getting a feel for our sand-clay mixture and the amount of work involved in stuffing and laying our tubing. Our goal is to build a home for as little money as possible, and teach others to do the same. If you have played with clay, chances are you can build a dome.
The hut is 8' in diameter (wide enough to comfortably lay down inside) and stands over 7' high inside at the center. I used 200 bags for a total cost of less than $40. Building the hut was inexpensive, but required a lot of labor. As far as I'm concerned it has provided many hours of silent retreat for me and it was indeed a ... labor of love.
An earthbag model dome is part of the ISEGERO village in Eastern Uganda. It is the beginning of the ecovillage in the Mpambo Afrikan Multiversity, started in August, 2009. The university aims towards Africa cultural revival. They are trying to construct an ecovollage made of earthbag in which the African culture is reflected. One small model dome was constructed to teach them about this technology.
This small dome was build during a 9-day workshop held in Thames, New Zealand. These were short days and many rain showers slowed them down. They used a waterproofing paint on the bags before applying the earthen plaster.
Anyone who is involved in an earthbag project who would like to share this with others through these pages, please contact us. Email: kellyhartATgreenhomebuilding.com with information about your project.

 

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