Sunday, September 12, 2010

International Dome Houses

The Japanese know a thing or two about living in small spaces. Additionally, Japanese designers and architects also have to know a thing or two about how to design homes for a country with high land prices, strict building codes and numerous earthquakes. These futuristic prefab houses from the International Dome House Company are built from segmented slices made of expanded polystyrene that claim to be superior to wood, iron and concrete.

Japanese Dome House Website

The company is located in Japan, but the dome segments are made in their factory in South Korea. Several small “villages” of various sizes of the dome houses have been built in Japan, where the design has been approved by the Japanese Ministry of Land and Transport. This building system can also be adapted for small businesses, storage areas or bathhouses.

However, the website says that this type of construction is “semi-permanent”. I asked Dome House International what they meant by that statement and the company said that their product’s structural material, expanded polystyrene, lasts semi-permanently because it could be affected by UV light, chemicals or heat. The material is covered with a special coating that protects it from damage. The Dome Houses have not been experimented on, but Dome House International claims that they can last for 300 years. They also said that there has been several cases where expanded polystyrene has been used for decades, and when the buildings were renovated, the material had not been damaged at all.

The Dome House can be built by assembling separate dome pieces. Each dome piece weighs about 175 pounds. It will take three to four people about a week to complete a Dome House. The basic model is about 22 feet in diameter, but separate domes can be added together to make larger buildings. Since expanded polystyrene is made only from carbon and hydrogen, casting of expanded polystyrene is extremely clean. Construction of the Dome House does not produce any waste, nor does it involve any deforestation.

The Dome Houses have beautiful, simple interiors with lots of light. They have no corners, so each dome is open for interpretation and interior design. The Dome House is simple, since it is a prefabricated building with a small number of parts. Because the construction of the Dome House requires only minimal manpower and a very short period of time, it is possible to reduce the substantial amount of labor costs. Prices on the U.S. website will be available soon. However, the prices on the Japanese website for the basic dome are about 3 million yen or about $33,000, not including shipping. The prices and specifications for domes in other countries will be different.

Benefits of the International Dome House

  • Ultra-thermal insulating
  • Semi-permanent durability
  • Wind resistant
  • Earthquake resistant
  • Short assembly time
  • Low cost
  • Good for people with chemical sensitivities

By Christina Nellemann for the (Tiny House Blog)
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