Re: Domes and Pattern Languages
From: Vinay Gupta (
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 21:04:50 -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.

Oh, I just meant that my understanding of pattern languages would fit
on the back of a postage stamp :-).

(oh, and I quite understand the carpal tunnel bit: I still lumps on
my forearms from a similar thing a couple of years ago.... take it easy 
Thomas, rest those fingers....).

>>>The factors which make domes unsuitable for urban situations
>        What about square lots and linear roads?

If the square lot is say three times the area of the dome house, 
there should be no really awkward spaces.  If one is building
"high-ish" density dome housing, I wouldn't know where to start:
there's no equivalent of row-housing in domedom.  I'm sure that
if one wanted to build high-density dome housing there are ways
it could be done: hexagonal lots, or rings of houses around a 
shared garden, that sort of thing.  But really, I don't know:
I'm a kit maker, not a housing development designer, and so I'm 
rather out of my depth.

>        Do domes have high ceilings?  That could make it feel large. 

As a rule, the lower floors of the dome have fairly regular ceilings,
and the topmost floor has a "ceiling" which varies in height - the
crown of the dome.  14 - 18 feet high is the sort of range for the
highest point, depending on dome design and size.

>>>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.


Our style of dome fabrication is really pretty hands on and low tech;
our "production outfit" is a fellow who lives a few miles away from
The Farm in middle TN: he has a radial arm saw in a lean-to shack.
The panels we cut right here in Arlington.  It's not unskilled work,
but it's hardly industrial mass production.

As we grow, we're going to be faced with a choice between a single
centralised manufacturing facility, and a network of small shops
with a couple of craftsmen in each cutting the kits.  It's very hard
to turn down the efficiencies of scale and skill-concentration which
the first route offers, yet clearly from a cultural standpoint I'm
much more in favour of the fine-grain, local-skill-centres approach.

One plan I like a lot is to associate those small dome shops with
some of the intentional communities around the country; try and
keep the money in the alternative economy, where we can be fairly
certain it's going to good use, rather than scattering it around
the wider society.  Worldview would get consciencious craftsmen,
and the communities would get an industry which can be run with
minimal capital investment and environmental impact.

It's a nice idea, I think.

>        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.

The Memphis central library has copies of three of Alexander's books;
I should have my hands on them by this weekend!  I'm rather excited
by the prospect of broadening my understanding of home design further,
perhaps finding new ways of arranging the insides of domes which can
take at least a few pages from this particular book.  I'll let you
know how I get on :-).

warm regards,


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