Re: Domes, Pattern Languags, Cliff Dwellings & flexible houses
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 15:21:49 -0500
Vinay said:

>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.  

Not in "modern geodesic domedom, but circular structures (which Thomas is 
citing as inappropriate for "patterns."  in older civilizations and 
especially with indigenous people's there are gorgeous (to me) examples 
of a bunch of circular structures wonderfully fitting together, defining 
spaces, etc.

>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.

Appreciate your candor, Vinay.  I'd urge you to branch out a bit and 
become more conversant on designing develoments with basically circular 

I highly recommend any of you out there say "ahhhhhhh!" when you look at 
a smoothly flowing, rounded structure look through picture books about 
the Anasazi who built most of the cliff dwellings in the SW U.S including 
Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, etc.  If you're passing thru 
Aztec, NM, check out the modern "restored" great kiva there -- as a 
sacred, communal gathering place, looks and feels marvelous.

Also, there are some African tribes that have incredible sculpted mud 
homes, usually circular with thatched roofs.  Many indigenous people use 
circular dwellings from Tipis to Yurts to Hogans, etc.  Living in them 
gives you a whole different consciousness when there are no corners, no 
boxes to confine your thinking.

I understand strawbale can be built into sculpted, non-rectangular forms, 
right?  Before you build another box, go check out some rounded 
structures - they're magical, and I feel they can be incorporated into 
patterns in a housing development.  Maybe they still violate some of 
Alexander's ideals, but so what?  

I could see a cohousing development with rectangular dwellings around the 
periphery and a nice big common house dome in the center.  Perhaps homes 
could have some half-dome greenhouses or vestibules or living rooms to 
help relate it to the common house.

So,  much of the above is my personal esthetic preference, but esthetics 
aside, building as sustainably as possible is a critical piece -- not 
using vast amounts of wood or toxic materials.  

Also, building flexibly so you don't have to remodel everytime the 
residents' needs change.  For instance, when kids leave home and a large 
house isn't required for the parents, perhaps the house could be designed 
so they could occupy part of it while renting or selling part they're not 

Yer friendly circular building fanatic,


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