Dome houses are a type of ecological housing that is sometimes confused with domotics, because of the similarity of the name. The most important difference is that domotic houses are also called intelligent because, thanks to technological systems, they can be automated, to improve energy management, security, welfare and communication. While domotics rather take advantage of technological advances in building systems, not in the day-to-day.
Characteristics of dome houses’
These houses are constituted with a monolithic structure (built in one piece) in the form of a vault. Their shape is also reminiscent of super-dome houses and, although they have similarities, they are not at all the same. Dome houses are generally made of reinforced concrete with a very high level of insulation. They are mainly used to build single-family houses, but also large buildings such as schools, kindergartens, sports centres, warehouses, etc.
Dome houses are possible thanks to a construction system that uses a new technology based on inflatable formworks, which are manufactured with the shape and size that fits exactly with the construction plans. These buildings are considered one of the most energy efficient in the world.
Structures of dome houses
Dome houses are both the roof and the outer walls of the house itself. They do not require interior partitions to maintain the weight of the structure; if desired, the interior can be totally diaphanous. Although for a family home we would not recommend it for obvious reasons.
The size of these ecological houses is very important for its structure since, the wider it is, the greater height it must have because to maintain its structure in a compact piece this measurement is added to the horizontal expansion. In this way, more than one floor can be manufactured and in some cases they use mezzanines or semi-floors to achieve a better distribution according to the need.
Materials of a dome house
Dome houses have different possibilities in the different materials, but generally wood and metal are used. In fact, you can make, for example, wooden dome huts, not only the typical houses that are usually associated with domes, white with shapes of huge cones.
But, really, one of the most important materials of the dome houses, apart from the reinforced concrete, is the polyurethane foam, since it gives them their capacity as one of the most sustainable constructions. It is placed in uniform layers as an insulator and between the reinforced concrete and an external membrane that acts as a thermal and sound insulator, achieving up to 50% energy savings compared to traditional houses.
Sustainability of dome houses
The sustainability of the dome houses, as we said before, is basically due to their very effective insulation, achieved with the polyurethane foam layers.
However, there are also issues such as dome shaped constructions, which facilitate better energy efficiency, as they allow heat to be distributed efficiently inside the building, making much better use of it with the consequent energy savings.
In addition, dome houses in summer are better cooled because, by positioning the windows optimally, the interior air circulates throughout the house because the dome directs the movement of the air so that it reaches the entire house.
Advantages of dome houses
The main advantages of dome houses are:
- High energy efficiency, long term savings and a lower cost compared to conventional houses of up to 50%.
- Lower initial costs; under the right conditions, dome houses can cost considerably less than a traditional one. In addition, in almost all cases, savings are made by designing the right interiors in a radial fashion.
- High resistance, incombustibility and seismic resistance. With respect to fire, their shape does not propagate it and they do not collapse with heat. Its symmetrical and monolithic shape gives the dome houses their anti-seismic, but also anti-torns qualities.
- Diaphanous interiors that allow with the current technology to create dome buildings of up to 10,000 m2 of surface, without problem.
Disadvantages of domes
The main disadvantages of dome houses are:
- In spite of the hardness of the material, these ecological houses can also suffer deterioration and, if that happens, when repairing and maintaining it is complicated, since, as they are not flat, depending on the materials used in the finishes and structure, a lot of precautions must be taken.
- Dome houses can suffer deformations caused by heating or cooling weather. So, in areas of climates with very contrasting seasons, it will be easy for this to happen.
- The need for light weight and the lack of adequate flexible materials is a problem.
- They also have the disadvantage that, being curved on the sides, they make the interior spaces somewhat more difficult to use. For example, to fit furniture or cabinets, unless we find furniture to our liking with the right shape, which is otherwise difficult.
- The cost of special windows for this type of ecological house can be 10 to 15 times more expensive than in common houses.
- The prices to put the wiring in these houses are high.
- Inside there can be problems with privacy, odors and noise pollution. As there are few differentiated spaces and the great complication of creating dividing walls. For example, if you want to listen to music while you study and another person wants to watch sports and a third person wants to watch their favourite show; either they all wear headphones or there will be a battle to get to hear what each person wants.