Dome test alert! It’s so exciting, working on our first dome!
Dome buildings are growing in popularity so much so that there’s actually been an article in Vogue Magazine about them.
But the Earthbag for me, is the most superior of them all. So I am elated that finally we’ve started this part of the build.
Earthbag dome construction
Earthbag domes are constructed with polypropylene tubes (or bags) that are filled with soil mixed with water.
The bags are then compacted by tamping to form the walls of the dome. The curve of the dome is achieved through geometry.
Hence the balance of the soil mix is crucial to having a strong building.
I carried out a jar test, to measure the soil ratios of sand, clay and silt. The results were as expected of a desert, very sandy and gravelly with very little clay and hardly any silt.
Not the best soil for earthbags.
We were still faced with this problem even after sifting out the course gravel, so we decided to stabilize the soil.
Even though we’re looking to build sustainable buildings, safety is paramount. So we needed to add a stabilizer because loose sand doesn’t hold very well together even when compacted.
Moreover, it’s acceptable to add up to 10% stabilizer to the soil to make a strong construction and still be classed as a sustainable building.
We chose to add cement as stabilizer to add strength to the domes. It’s produced locally so was the best choice.
Test Soil Bricks
In the thumbnail on the far right, you can see the two test bricks. The one on the left is 5% and the one on the right is 10%.
As you can see one of them is broken. This happened when we did the drop test for strength. The 5% cracked on impact with the ground whilst the 10% withstood the fall.
Set the foundations
Tests completed, we set the foundations. Incidentally the foundation bags have to be stabilized with a mix of 30% cement for obvious reasons. Below that there’s a course of bedrock.
So the foundations of the dome are very sturdy.
Notice the barbed wire? This is very important, it gives the dome tensile strength. As well as helping to grip the bags to stop them slipping when they are being tamped to compact the earth inside them.
Watch it grow!
Almost there now
It’s a wonderful process to see the dome taking shape, as if by magic! Now that’s what I call sacred geometry!
How’s this for a first attempt?!
The builders a have done a terrific job on this test dome. We’ve identified a few anomalies but on the whole it’s fantastic!
A coat of a traditional mix of earthen plaster has been applied this will be followed by a smoother mix.
Not bad boys! I feel really proud of the team because they’ve never worked on this type of earth building before.
However, they do have extensive experience of working on Coptic domes and vault ceilings which are in some ways are architectural precursors to earthbag domes.
So much so, it’s fair to say that they are masters of ancient traditional building techniques.
So, this combined with knowledge and guidance of how to build with earthbags has created this successful first attempt. Well done to all of our team! I am so thankful and grateful for your wonderful energies.
A special mention goes out to Mr Ahmad Shahat, a most amazing and experienced engineer. To call him and engineer sets limits on his exceptional talents!
Seen here supervising test mixes for earthen plaster. A master in his craft.
He’s a little camera-shy, hopefully he’ll give us a better shot next time!
Once the earth mix was set, the bags were removed to make the rendering/plastering adhere better.
Of course there’s still a lot to do on this before it is finished more rendering and plastering and the final finishing touches.
Because this test is so successful, we’ll keep it and use this small dome for one of our Dukhan or body smudging rooms.
Once again I am so grateful to see my dream being manifest in and on earth.
My path is opening smoothly and beautifully just like a flower blooming.
When I say ‘dream’, it’s not as some may think a fantasy or an aspiration that I have frustratingly fostered for years and years.
No, it was an actual dream I had in January 2015. A dream that Carl Jung and others may call a ‘prophetic dream’.
I was told by a woman in the dream that;
“You’re going to the desert in a strange tent that looks like a beehive, many people coming“
Somewhat abbreviated but the content of that dream and others proceeding it, is for a whole nother post! 🙂
I am in effect following my destiny and I love every single moment of it.
I am grateful that I have aligned with my life’s path and purpose; and that I am able to follow it with the loving guidance and blessing of the universe. To whom I say;
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