The Dome Home, baby !
September 18, 2004 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Hurricane Ivan VS soy sprayed house that wouldn't look bad in Star Trek. Results of the match: house wins ! Proof proved that if you build to last, the building lasts ...but if you don't for whatever reason.... More info on the building here
posted by elpapacito (19 comments total)
Hey, that's awesome. I'd like to know how much it cost to construct and how it looks on the inside, though...
posted by mote at 4:18 PM on September 18, 2004

You might want to check out the "Monolithic Dome Institute" for more info about dome houses of this sort.
posted by Mark Doner at 4:51 PM on September 18, 2004

Does the open part of the dome face out to the ocean? (Surely the windowless round part isn't blocking the ocean views?) I'm not sure I understand why that exposed part wasn't more vulnerable.
posted by Zurishaddai at 4:54 PM on September 18, 2004

There are some inside pictures on this page. Unfortunately, the main site about the "Dome of a Home" (Google cache) is down since their server does not currently have power. I think I recall having seen interior photos on that site pre-Ivan.
posted by LeiaS at 5:01 PM on September 18, 2004

zusishaddai: I bet they had hurricane shutters that slide down to cover the windows. It looks like the open face does give a view of the ocean. And the plans show windows on both the North and South views. For video and an interview try here.

I wonder how well the Pensacola Beach UFO house made it through Ivan?
posted by ?! at 5:09 PM on September 18, 2004

The house was made of soy. But an hour and a half later, the hurricane was still hungry.
posted by gimonca at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2004

I checked the Pensacola News-Journal forum-one of the posters said the UFO house made it, for what it's worth. Also, Joe Patti Seafood made it, tho it got flooded.

I used to live down there. This is so bizarre....Pensacola is practically an island, as so many of the bridges are busted.
posted by konolia at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2004

" The house is made of a single slab of steel-reinforced concrete shaped like a dome and is covered by waterproof foam."

Um, is there any reason it shouldn't survive a hurricane? I don't get the surprise factor here.
posted by majick at 6:33 PM on September 18, 2004

majick - It's a news angle, that's all.
posted by troutfishing at 8:00 PM on September 18, 2004

Re-title the linked story as "giant manmade concrete chunk survives hurricane" and it sounds rather silly, eh ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2004

I am amazed anything on that beach survived. My parents live about 15 miles inland and they are living in a horizontal forest, a carpet of trees and limbs. If the flying saucer house (one of my favorite things on that beach for 20 something years) survived it is a miracle of sorts. If an 850-ton single piece of concrete with 5 miles of steel in it, not a huge miracle there.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 8:35 PM on September 18, 2004

there's a few things going on with this house as to the reason it survives:

1) it is made of freakin concrete people!!! this is a very rigid structure compared to the typical wood framed houses found in the area. note that i wouldn't be surprised if the cost of the building is several orders of magnitude higher. I'm also sure that at 850 tons the foundation for this house must run pretty deep and be pretty rock solid.

2) there are very few windows. Lowering the numbers of windows is very important as it limits the amount of damage to the interior of the structure. Additionally i'm sure what windows are in there are probably large missile impact hurricane windows which cost the proverbial arm and leg. These windows are made to take a direct hit by a 9' long 2x4 traveling at somehting like 140mph and then also still hold the wind pressure.

3) there is no seperate roof. typically hurricanes rip the roof off houses by breaking the windows which allows pressure to enter the building and rip the roof off the house. If the houses have been retrofitted or recently built connections can be added to keep the roof in place but otherwise your looking at a flying ceiling once your windows break. So basically the main advantage of the dome design is that your roof is a continous structure, no distintive connection line to fail (though there could be some construction joints). Also note that the heavy concrete construction adds a GREAT deal of mass, which keeps the damn roof on the ground.

4) note that all these things lead to one outcome: cost. yeah, you can build something "hurricane proof" (note: NOTHING is proof, it's merely proof until something comes along that is stronger then the design load), but you have to have LOTS of money to waste (shit people, he got a grant). While i'll admit that having a continous roof structure and limiting windows will probably add to integrity, i wouldn't expect to see it as a trend anytime soon (barring the change in the local climate that results in a greater number of high intensity hurricanes and a resulting change in insurance payoffs and incentives).

so bravo for him, a bunker is still a bunker.
posted by NGnerd at 10:02 PM on September 18, 2004

I like it, its got a cool organic shape, sure, it was purpose built for hurricanes and its not surprise it survived. But I think its cool.
posted by fenriq at 11:29 PM on September 18, 2004

NGnerd: apparently some guy at NOOA's AOML disagrees with your point #3. ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:56 AM on September 19, 2004

Sure, so he got a grant. It doesn't mean it isn't a good start towards changes in Floridian housing styles... The basic idea, 'concrete dome' really shouldn't be too hard to implement. I bet it's tough making one with a few thousand feet of floor space, but if you only need a few hundred feet, then I don't imagine it would be too tough to make something like this on your own. You could probably even have one of those expensive windows or two, if you're clever. Concrete is cheap, after all.

It's almost a truism that the invading colonial force will be completely unadapted to their environment. We come and want our basically European houses built for pretty temperate climates and loaded down with luxuries. The construction styles are completely out of touch with the local natural disasters, and when the house collapses, the treasure inside is ruined too. A smart Floridian would probably live in a cheap and easy to construct, semi-permanent dwelling. Or, as this guy demonstrated, big concrete bunkers...
posted by kaibutsu at 3:45 AM on September 19, 2004

These windows are made to take a direct hit by a 9' long 2x4 traveling at somehting like 140mph and then also still hold the wind pressure. Holy crap.
posted by Zurishaddai at 8:40 AM on September 19, 2004

On the subject of cost, according to the site I linked to before, it costs about the same to build concrete dome houses as it does to build a regular house. No claim is made about hurricane survivability, so perhaps it's more expensive to over-build in that way -- but probably not that much more. This is all assuming they're not mis-representing the costs, of course.
posted by Mark Doner at 12:30 PM on September 19, 2004

One thing have heard several times is that Florida loses so many house roofs because of all the states it has the weakest requirements for roof attachement. like the builders dont have to use the same kind of nails that hold roofs on everywhere else.
Any one know if this is true?
posted by Iax at 8:50 PM on September 19, 2004

iax: what I heard is that there's some construction building code in FL which includes metal straps to fasten roof structure to walls ; what I dunno if it's a mandatory building code, if it's enforced or practically effective.
posted by elpapacito at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2004

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