A new home in a dome by NRJA makes some remarkable claims

NRJA dome in snow
© NRJA

Geodesic domes are tough. Brilliant mathematically, they are difficult technically. Having owned one and having it rot away around me, I tend to look at them critically. Inhabitat is showing this interesting design for a geodesic dome home, designed by Latvian firm NRJA, (No Rules, Just Architecture). It was on ArchDaily last year, where they write that it is:

... an off the grid prefab home designed to provide comfort whether you’re living in the frigid Russian taiga or enjoying the sun somewhere in the Mediterranean. It is easily foldable, eco-friendly and provides optimal living conditions regardless of the location. With a small solar and rainwater collection systems as well as natural ventilation, the geodesic dome is a self-sufficient home for adventure seekers.

© NRJA

The internal living spaces are self-supporting, which is common when building in domes, it is hard to connect to the walls. The dome appears to be made of engineered glue-laminated timber with 3/8" cement board (probably something like Hardiplank) covered by liquid rubber roofing, and 8 inches of unspecified insulation. No word on how you build a foldable geodesic dome out of a frame with cladding like this; it has been done with thin, light materials but this is not a light dome.

© NRJA

Apparently the house is heated and cooled with an earth tube and a fireplace in the middle. Somehow the dome is "designed to provide comfort whether you’re living in the frigid Russian taiga or enjoying the sun somewhere in the Mediterranean." Inhabitat stretches the range to "as far afield as the Namibian desert and Siberia since the unique construction and insulation provides a comfortable interior climate regardless of outdoor temperatures."

© NRJA

It really is a lovely design, making the difficult shape of a dome into attractive and mostly useable space. But is it realistic to claim that a building can keep people comfortable in such different climates? To show full bathrooms and kitchens and call it off grid and off pipe? To use earth tubes in permafrost? To build out of cement board (which expands and contracts a lot) and think that rubber roofing will keep the water out? And don't get me started about those windows.

© NRJA

But it really is a lovely design.

Tags: Buckminster Fuller | Green Building

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