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Articles - monolithic domes (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

Introduction to the Monolithic Dome

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The Monolithic Dome is a super-insulated, steel reinforced concrete structure used for homes, schools, gymnasiums, bulk storage facilities, churches, offices, and many other uses.

David B. South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute, and his brothers - Barry and Randy South - developed an efficient method for building a strong dome using a continuous spray-in-place process. In 1976, after years of planning and development they built the first Monolithic Dome in Shelley, Idaho.

In 1979, the first patent was awarded for the Monolithic Dome construction process. And since 1976, Monolithic Domes have been constructed in 45 states and many foreign countries.

The Construction Process

A Monolithic Dome starts as a concrete ring foundation, reinforced with steel rebar. For smaller domes, an integrated floor and ring foundation may be used. Vertical steel bars embedded in the ring beam footing are later attached to the steel reinforcing of the dome itself.

The Airform, fabricated to a proper shape and size, is attached to the concrete base. Using fans, the Airform is inflated - creating the shape of the dome. The Airform is both the form for construction of the dome and the outer roof membrane of the shell when it is finished. The inflator fans run throughout the construction of the dome shell.

Approximately three inches of polyurethane foam insulation is applied to the interior surface of the Airform.

Steel reinforcing bars, or rebar, is attached to the foam using special "hooks" embedded in the foam. The rebar is placed in a specially engineered layout of hoop (horizontal) and vertical steel rebar.

Shotcrete, a special spray mix of concrete, is sprayed onto the interior surface of the polyurethane foam, embedding the rebar. After three inches of shotcrete is applied, the Monolithic Dome is a steel reinforced, concrete structure.


home domeThe Monolithic Dome is a permanent structure which is energy efficient, cost effective, disaster resistant and attractive.

Monolithic Domes have real strength. They can withstand the force of a tornado, hurricane or earthquake. They cannot burn, rot or be eaten by bugs.

The Monolithic Dome is energy efficient. It will usually save fifty percent on heating and cooling costs compared to a comparable conventional building.

The Future

In 1999, David was awarded the U.S. Patent for the Crenosphere, a breakthrough in large dome construction. It will allow concrete domes to be built from 300 feet to 1000 feet in diameter. These huge structures are ideal for indoor sports facilities and stadiums. We are moving toward a future where homes, stadiums, offices, schools, churches, and more will be Monolithic Domes.


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