Bill Lishman's Underground Dome Home


all images from William Lishman

Readers may remember Fly Away Home, the film starring Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin that was based on William Lishman's flights with birds. The script stuck pretty close to Lishman's life, and even included the round pop-up refrigerator in his kitchen. But they didn't use his house; it is a group of interconnected igloo-like domes, buried underground; they thought it was "too weird." Perhaps they were right; it does look like a wacky sixties out-take. But it also evidently needs almost no energy to cool and almost none to heat, even though it is in a pretty cold, windy location.

Lishman's site describes the rationale behind it:

After building an igloo one winter in the early 1970's, Bill was amazed at how warm it would become just from body heat, and how the flame from a lighter or match was all that was needed to illuminate the whole room. He read many books on underground building and energy efficient homes. The idea of putting a square home under the earth made no sense - caves are not boxes, and the box is not a shape that lends itself to the immense load of earth above. Inspired by British artist and designer Roger Dean he came up with the idea to build an underground home consisting of interconnected igloo like domes.

Lishman points out some of the problems that come from living in domes:

Square furniture and appliances do not fit in a round room, there are no corners to stick lamps, and hanging pictures is tricky.

And it ain't cheap or easy:

A word of caution if you wish to pursue building a house such as this the costs are higher than building conventionally because it involves moving tons of earth and a great deal of work by skilled artisans, With that said the costs will be recouped during the life of the house and in the long run it will be cheaper and more rewarding but the initial building takes a great deal of dedication.

Gunnite and ferrocement were popular technologies for building dome homes in the sixtied and seventies; Ant Farm did wonderful things with it. Earth sheltered homes are energy-efficient and popular too, but I don't think very many people have tried to combine the two. Does anyone know of any others like this?

More on Lishman and his house at William Lishman; found on doornob.

Tags: Green Building | Ontario