3: Collected sketches, cuttings, pictures and genesis of a pitch

Here is a picture of my assembled cuttings, sketches and musings on geodesic domes and alternative building technologies:

IMG_5101You can see there is a fantastic element to some of the designs, especially the aquatic domes – as an outlet from the mundane task of actually manufacturing geodesic domes, it became clear that the possibilities for inhabitation were endless. With my mentor Patrick Martin, I spent hours theorising, modelling, dreaming and philosophising about the practical applications of dome technology. I’d like to stress here the term practical – while the term “practical application” may seem a little less than fanciful, this is merely a tacit appreciation that once constructed, the built environment is completely open to the inhabitant to inhabit as they see fit.

You may also note the pamphlets by Oregon Domes, an American company that builds pre-fabricated domes to order. Their catalogs are very comprehensive, and make use of combinations of domes of different sizes, riser walls and regular rectilinear architecture to ease the customer into thinking they aren’t completely buying some crazy hippie dwelling. Great for looking at pictures of American decor of the 1970s…

During our dome-building, Patrick and I fielded numerous queries about the domes we built, and were often given options for what the domes could be used for – as we rarely used them for any one identifiable thing (often they were a mix of workshop, hangout, recording studio/practice, sleeping space, “men’s shed”, studio etc etc depending on the time of year, visitor/guest requirements and current personal orientation/interest) this seemed to prompt people to “fill in the gaps” as if we really hadn’t considered giving them an actual “use”. We heard that they could be soundproofed as recording studios, used for workshops, meditation cells, granny flats, dojos/physical training, crèches, artist’s studios, greenhouses, chicken coops, libraries/studies, cafés, market stalls, barracks, disaster shelters, motor workshops, stables for livestock, planting sheds. Our favourite reply when people told us what domes might be used for was “ how about a composting toilet?”

It was as if because of its unusual geometry, the dome somehow needed to be filled with interesting ideas – as if it wasn’t an interesting idea just as it was, or rather, to put it another way, that rectilinear buildings are assumed to have all manner of uses without remark, whereas these strange objects of architectural curiosity need to be somehow quantified or qualified with all manner of urbane or esoteric purposes.

Patrick likes to characterise dome-tech as “spaceship kindy” – these are the tools and habitats that are perfectly suited to extra-terrestrial and orbiting/vaccuum environments – modular, incredibly strong and able to be constructed from super-lightweight materials.

My favorite comment came from Patrick’s then teenaged son who summarised a dome as a “demountable cave”. This perfectly sums up the span of human technological innovation in architecture, and captures the simplicity and source of my fascination with domes – from caves to the stars…

And here are some photos of domes I have built…

This is a wooden frame on a 900 mm riser:


which became this – clad and including a floored second story with adult headroom:

WM9 and then this with a cupola creating a third story:


Here’s the dome used at the reception of my wedding:

WD5looking somewhat bedraggled here:


A tiny, tiny greenhouse, used years later in my pitch for this course:


Our workshop getting a riser put on:


to look like this:


The two post-apocalyptic trash domes “blending in” to the neighborhood:


A more people-sized propagating greenhouse used at my brother’s house for a number of years before being removed to make way for a deck:



My nieces and nephew spent a lot of fun hours in this:
CD5 and my son regularly makes us go and eat lunch/breakfast/random meals in this – frame manufactured by Adam “Art” Hughes, cladding, external blister and floor by yours truly:

photo-2 copy


Here’s a cardboard dome that shows the possibilities of a panel approach – it is possible to remove the corner area of each panel without losing structural integrity, this also provides welcome opportunities for air vents or insertion of utilities:domelampshade I even take time to turn playing with my son into dome tech tinkering like this, recreating a scene from Cars:


or this:


And finally, here’s a random pic of a wistful niece at the threshold of a beautifully accessorized dome, and perhaps the threshold of a bright future of geodesic architecture:




2 thoughts on “3: Collected sketches, cuttings, pictures and genesis of a pitch

  1. Morgan I can’t help feeling that the structures simplicity is inderminded by cladding the dome structure. While I know it adds functionality personally I feel it’s spiritual form is lost. I like the last dome dwelling the best as it’s the one that hides the simplistic ness of the dome the lest

  2. @Catherine: Sure, and you wouldn’t be the first to think this. If you attach a canvas skin to the inside of the frame you actually achieve greater wind resistance properties and can then utilize the frame externally, while still remaining sheltered on the inside – you just lose the ability to attach things to the frame inside the shelter. It’s definitely a tradeoff.

    Also, when you get into combining the domes or adding blisters/pods etc, you really lose the sense of specialness of the dome – some people want to lose the mystic quality of the geometry, I’m definitely in the camp that want to keep it…

    Don’t let my garbage-style cladding turn you off – when the propagating greenhouse in my brother’s yard was covered in greenhouse plastic, his exceedingly uncultured neighbor opined that he and his family had dubbed it “the Condom”. Before it was covered, his other neighbor, an artist, gushed about the amazing structure in his yard. Each to their own.

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