5: The Pitch and afterthoughts
During the pitch Joana and Sandi asked plenty of pertinent questions, and Joana’s architectural eye flipped the dome on its side to demonstrate the spherical possibilities and the modular nature of the structure. It was clear to all that I had a lot of passion and experience with the theoretical and practical applications of the technology, but also evident that perhaps there was too broad a focus for what I was actually pitching. Sandi, ever the sensible head when it comes to my more expansive flights of fancy wanted to know exactly what materials would be involved in the “chassis” (struts? If so, what material? panels? If so, again, what materials) and what the exact function and purpose this pitch had for the dome.
I would have to admit even to myself that this is always something I have struggled with – in essence the domes are a possibility until there is a reason to create them. I have built domes out of wood salvaged from transport pallets, cardboard, finished pine, steel, reclaimed Hills Hoists, small iron bars, tent poles, plastic conduit bamboo; and clad them in plastic sheeting, tarps, corrugated iron, “for sale” signs, laserlite, canvas, canvas dipped in cement, wooden wallboards – sometimes for a distinct reason, other times as part of research and development.
Here again is a picture of the wooden frame dome Patrick and I built, covered in plywood and sitting on a 900mm riser. This dome has a second story inside with stairs and a wooden floor, and a small cupola on top reached via a ladder. Kept warm by a wood fire I lived in it (on the second floor) for about 6 months during the winter of 2009. It ain’t pretty, but it was definitely a proof of concept…
So, for me, the problem has been marketing a distinct product that does the technology justice, and fills an absolute need. A need that will determine the exact physical characteristics of the dome itself – is it a greenhouse? A chicken coop? A composting toilet? Disaster shelter, akin to this: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=410219009117833&id=236486913157711&ref=m_notif¬if_t=mention
Where will the raw material be sourced from? Once sourced, how will the “product” be manufactured and by whom? Once manufactured, how will it be transported? Once transported, who will assemble it? Once assembled, who will clad it? Once finished, what maintenance and after supply service will be required? Are all of these questions auto-assumptions, or are some of them unnecessary – if the purpose is disaster shelter, then perhaps the raw materials can be sourced in the disaster zone, and the assembly could be completed by the survivors? If the purpose is a sustainability-minded chook-shelter, is the “product” merely the instructions and a YouTube video on how to manufacture the struts and assemble the dome from cast off recycled timber or discarded Hill’s Hoists and some tire wire?