Small, Sculptural Concrete Dome Concept

An Enersearch project, which at this point consists of 3D CAD structural plans, 2D rendered graphics like those on this page, and other structural techniques in the process of both physical development and preliminary graphic presentation.

Sept 03-- Link just added for a 5m / 15 ft dome storage shed.

This is an integrated structural approach to building, (in this example), a small house. The representations of upstairs furnishing are provided only to account for space in the minimalist context. (Let me admit that i need to spend more time modeling the upstairs furnishings in a much more organic style. Learning the particular render- settings consumed the time intended for pure structural modeling).

Since i have lived for many years in compact, crowded spaces, i believe the minimalist space concept is a viable solution for a heavily populated world. The economy of material costs, solar dome technology and construction methods, makes this design very competitive for the housing market, while at the same time fostering sculpture.

The downstairs furnishings are intended to be built in place at the same time time the dome is being molded. Various cementitious materials would comprise the bulk of this dome and all of the built in furnishings.

Methods to mold concrete into this dome include a range of possibilities, from "hand molded peasant" methods to higher tech power driven machinery methods. I have been experimenting with concrete molding methods for nearly three decades.


All of these graphics were modeled and rendered in formZ RenderZone software.Top graphic (first picture),is side view, no perspective. Just above (second picture), is a downstairs interior, perspective view.To right (third picture) is an overview, (a no perspective view), of downstairs furnishing placements.

Solar Heating, Cooling and Ventilation

Solar collection coils are positioned right beneath the top of the exterior cement shell. High lime content is recommended for use due to the tenancy of free lime , within a concrete admixture, to "heal" microscopic cracks. Lime also is critical in producing a cement admixture which can be sculpturally molded without extensive form work.

This lime is already part of "concrete pumping" which is one of the building options, (most notably for regions which have no stones, locally). But use of local rock material, similar to masonry, is a viable means where power equipment is not available.

Hydronic or radiant heating coil is shown beneath floor tiles as an option. Heating integrates both solar and optional flamed boiler, (not shown). The central, sculptural hearth is an optional heat storage mass.

In temperate climate summers, (Maine), night cooling of interior, insulated, concrete masses, has proven very effective. Cooling may optionally be effected by use of hydronic floor coil, (connected to heat pump).


To right, (forth picture), is a closeup over view of hearth which intersects with kitchen, for ethnic traditional cooking enjoyment, (a no perspective view).

The kitchen range is optionally connected to wood fire, for convective heating of one or two back burners. The front burner may be a more modern burner of home owner's choice. This concept visualizes the use of sculpted masonry instead of usual metal structure. Electrical elements or gas fired burners may be installed into a fitted masonry stove base.






The floor tiles are visualized as a small, culled tree, sliced like salami, (or like sliced bread). Uniform hexagonal edges of tiles may be obtained by welding together hardened plate steel, sharpened along one face. The cutting of freshly sliced wood tiles can be powered by an appropriately fitted wood spitter power tool, or by sledge hammer. The wood tiles also require boiling in linseed oil to season and seal wood.


To left, small upstairs bathroom, sculpturally molded, with partition to spiral stairway partially cut away.








To Right: Upstairs perspective plan showing space consumption using standard furniture models. Better space consumption is contemplatred using more organic shapes for furniture, which would could be customized.








Why Concrete ?

Following are considerations about bulk structural materials only. The emphasis is that we don't have to over use lumber and that human consumption of resouces can become more sustainable.

-Structural wood is a fire hazard. No mater how strict the fire code, if the structure is flamible, it can burn. Fire losses are both economic and human. This is an unneccessary and wastful risk.

-Good lumber is harder and harder to find. Historically, population preasures deplete forests (and populations are expanding without enough thought towards sustainability of resources like lumber).

-Commonly available grades of lumber always suffer from knots and questionable grain quality. This poses uncertainty about optimal structuring, since structural stock can include a weak point which invalidates strength expectations. Concrete offers better control of structural qualities to builders and designers. Structural integrity can be designed with the least material consumption. And organic designs which are inherantly more economical and more efficient become available to buildings.

-The cost of concrete is becoming more competitive with wood. Managment of the manufacture of concrete materials is more easily regulated than forestry practices which neglect the nurturing of high grade lumber. ( The lumber industry as a whole, focuses on marketing, excluding the time consuming caring for quality trees, especially in the critical crowding, desease prone years of growth).


Technical Focus

Re-invent concrete methods for small scale projects with scultural free forming. Utilize concrete in a "plastic" consistency, for wall building, instead of a soupy mode. Maximize material efficiency by exploiting an extended range of aggregates. (The aggregate dimentions approach the wall thickness).This is very efficient for many areas because of the surplus of stones which are underutilized as a result of minning gravel and limestone, etc.. Utilization of this surplus will reduce both the material cost and also fascilitates freeform sculpting of ferro concrete.

Generally the challenge is innovation in material handling. Vast investments have fascilitated lumber structuring. By comparrison, almost no investment has been made in small scale, sculptural concrete tooling. Yet very reasonable adaption of machinery will promote sculptural construction to competitive levels compared with other conventional construction methods. Coming soon is a description of "reinvented power tools and masonry techniques".


Cementitious Variety

Worthy of considration is a wide range of different cement chemistries. Portland based cements are the best known. Countless adjustments with admixtures and and agegrates are possible, depending on the scope of application. Less known are several non limestone based chemestries. Of possible interest is refractory cement for stove construction. More exotic intersts might include experimentation with cements which swell rather than shrink, (as portland cements normally shrink durring setting) . Simple finishing as well as decorative enhancements are both possible in implementing this building concept.

Note: These pages are placed in the public domain and are furnished "as is". The author assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the concepts in this series. All pertaining laws should be satisfied, in duplicating or testing my concepts or descriptions, as are posted on my linked pages.

Searching Synergy ........ Free Exchange of Ideas

Enersearch was incorporated in 1980 but never materialized financially.  A  synergy of concepts were developed and are reflected in the pages of this series.  The synergy continues as a single handed effort of Bo Atkinson, in Maine, USA.

Email comments welcome ~~~~~~~

Tel : 207 342 5796 . . . (Maine)



Labor saving ring reinforced joists and trusses, link is planned here, (before 2003).
Experiments using one directional rings in very thin, uninsulated walls, click here

Three directional (three axes), ring reinforcement visualizations for insulating concrete...

Original 3D ring concept, click here.

3D reinforcement rings and labor saving, 24/7 concrete construction . Just add water!

Concrete pump using recylced radials, click here for a cost saving concept.

Cement plank module with flat spiraled ringforcement survives lift test. (June 2000)

An animation of an older building process using ringforcement.

A star patterned dome rendering from CAD

See some CAD sketches using curvaceous meshes.

Translucent dome built enirely singlehanded by author.
See an old sketch the author made with an ancient Windows program.

See trickle down solar heat storage concept.

See a wilder biaxial building concept.