Domes are inherently strong because they cause any force bearing down on them to be spread across the entire structure. They are self-supporting and one can enclose a large amount of space while using less material than conventional building practices. When we considered the weather in Panama, we realized these homes needed to be built to withstand the high winds of tropical storms as well as recurring earthquakes many parts of Panama experience. Traditional homes need reinforcement to meet these requirements, but a monolithic dome is self-supporting. The domes will be created as a single unit, using a reusable air form, which, if cared for properly, can be used 100 times.
Monolithic Dome Construction
Where could we find a construction material that wouldn’t rot even when subjected to a tropical rain every other day for seven months out of the year? Concrete fits the bill perfectly as it is waterproof and rotproof. There are other benefits as well. Not only is it fireproof, but it creates an inhospitable environment for insects and pests. And since the homes will be built using forms, there are no seams or baseboards for the critters to hide behind. Once the doors and windows are in place the homes become impervious to the little critters.
Using a mix of standard and new procedures, a monolithic dome home can be constructed swiftly, repeatedly, and inexpensively. After the foundation has been poured and set, the air form is attached to to the foundation, inflated, and concrete is applied or sprayed on the outside. Before the second and third layers are added, basalt rope is woven around the dome to reinforce the overall structure. The building goes up very rapidly. Materials and labor can be locally sourced. Community involvement is very important to AbaHomes.
Temperatures in Panama
Since the average temperature in Volcan, Panama ranges from 55°F to 75°F, we anticipate heating and cooling systems will be unnecessary. Windows and skylights are already designed into the Ecoshell Dome form to utilize natural lighting. Our desire is to make our dome homes as self-sustaining and economically advantageous as possible.
You may be thinking, “Concrete is cold and grey.” To make the homes easy on the eyes as well as easy to maintain, a dye can be added to the concrete slurry. Can you picture it, a home that never needs to be painted? Interior walls can be made smooth or have patterns imprinted on them during the forming process to enhance its overall design.
Ecoshells have been built all over the world and they are a proven method of construction. We are excited to explore this medium while bringing a fresh start to those in need.