Domes and Pattern Languages
From: Thomas Alexander (
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 17:02:07 -0500
Me>     Check out A Pattern Language and ask this question again.
You>    I'm definitely feeling underinformed here!

        Well, it's that I have carpal tunnel and try not to be too verbose.

>>I challenge the implicit assertion that domes are bad places.<<
        I was responding to when you said that although following the
patterns may lead to superior social spaces...

>>The factors which make domes unsuitable for urban situations
are purely matters of conformity: in a community of dome houses,
a rectangular house would be quite unsuitable.  I think that's
the only hitch.  <<
        What about square lots and linear roads?

>>I, personally, do not think I ever want to go back to living 
in the city.<<
        But the original question was whether domes were suitable for
cohousing - which is a high density application.  Even in rural cohousing,
neighbors need to be close to each other and to the common house - often at
densities which would be high by urban standards.

>>To my eye, dome houses feel very large for the actual floorspace
enclosed.  How you and I "feel space" may differ.<<
        Do domes have high ceilings?  That could make it feel large. 
Still, I think you'll feel like you're stuck in the next room to your
housemates in a large feeling place, rather than being able to find your
own place in a large feeling longhouse.

>>I, personally, having contracted a healthy dislike of the
industrialised economy,<<
        Ironic that industrial building and prefab dome components are your
way out -- but I ponder these things too, and probably agree with you. 
I'll be moving to a new home soon - at a slight loss - to ensure that I'm
never tempted to buy a second car - or maybe even never fix the car we have
if it wears out.

>>Hm.  That's very interesting.  I rather like the way wooden
dwellings feel, but I suppose that's just a personal thing.<<
        His reasons are sustainability and cost of lumber as a primary
material.  He says it's quite suitiable for windows, door frames, etc.

>> I think you're overstating the case to suggest that a dome
house has "less than half the utility of a conventional home";<<
        What I really mean to say is that a home built with close attention
to Alexander's patterns has at least twict the utility of a house built
without regard to them -- and further that it's difficult to pay close
attention to the patterns with a dome house.
        I'd consider using a dome for a weekend cabin in the woods - but
not for any place with more than one house.


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