Why I Build Domes

My primary motivation to build domes has always been to make my own home. At times I have dreamed of manufacturing low cost housing. Geodesic geometry and design is fascinating, and worthy to be pursued for a variety of reasons, but on this point I have always been clear.I yearned for the spherical space of a dome, and felt certain that a geodesic dome was the answer.

I first encountered the plydome in The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller in 1974, almost 2 years after I began studying domes, and knew instantly this was a brilliant expression of a concept I had been searching for. For many years I have studied and experimented to determine the most efficient way to build a home. I grew up in the building trades, parting with conventional methods at age 19. My means were restricted from lack of space and materials, but as I grew older, able to earn a living yet unable to afford land, I invested what time and money I felt I could in experimental domes and models. My wife Cynthia only left me once in the 15 years that passed before we moved into our spherical home.

I was 44 years old when I built our place. The house itself was a small expense compared to buying the land, drilling a well, and having the driveway, septic and electricity put in. It is also a small expense when property tax is due, so our dome has fulfilled our hopes for a comfortable home that supports us instead of draining our resources. The third floor apartment we had formerly lived in was more expensive on a per year basis. I have been asked if I had thought about resale value. No. We plan to stay here. This is the most comfortable, pleasant place in which I have ever lived (although the original house is rather small). And the dome's value to us the past nine years is more than we have in it. Designing homes for people in other parts of the world has not been a goal. I don't understand the problem well enough, and I didn't think I could have credibility attempting to house people in India if I was unable to provide this kind of shelter for my own family. I also wonder what would make their needs strikingly different from mine.

I am still building. The domes I make are economical of material and require much careful work. I don't have to scrimp on labor because I like doing this. My profession is seasonal, and I frequently get opportunities to work on my expanding home. My effort has been a ruthless pursuit of economy, an unusual respect for the materials I use, and a greater willingness to invest time than money.


Sphere CottageHome Triacon Small Dome 24' Plydome Triacon 42' Plydome Chrysalis Big Top Geodesic Tent Research Dome 18 Research Dome 18 Sphere Cottage Foil Dome Home Small Dome 24' Plydome Small Dome 42' Plydome Chrysalis Small Dome Geodesic Tent Research Dome 18 Research Dome 18 Foil Dome Sphere Cottage Home

Created: February 2, 2001
Last Revised: March 6, 2006
Steve Miller, 2001