We get a considerable number of inquiries from people and organizations that are interested in using our products to build low cost housing for families in parts of the world where poverty is a major problem. When we get these types of inquires we always let people know that we are not interested in profiting when it comes to “helping out people in need.” We let them know that we’ll gladly license our products for free where this type of work is to be accomplished.
Today we are going to up our philanthropic philosophy another notch. Today we are going to release a minimalist modular interlocking dome design that could easily be used to build extremely low cost housing. This dome design was created by Zipblocks LLC. We do not want to patent this design and we encourage anyone to use this design as they see fit. All that we ask is that you might consider putting our logo on it somewhere and that if you make improvements to the design, that you publish them here or somewhere else on the web so that others may benefit from your improvements.
The dome design portrayed in the above movie was originally created with the intent of manufacturing it out of triangular foam panels that are about 5 inches thick. Two channels are integrated into the sides of all panels. The outermost channel is to be filled with an expanding foam sealant after all of the panels are locked together (run a tube into the hollow channel and spray foam into it). The inner channel is to be used for the installation of plumbing and wiring.
The channels and their placement are both optional and discretionary. Aesthetics were originally the primary influence for the creation of the two “internal” channels. Wiring could most certainly be hung from the walls, but wouldn’t it be nice to hide it within the channels? The dome could be sealed via grooves between panels on the outside of the dome, but wouldn’t it be nicer to hide the seal?
Between the sides of each dome panel there are two interlocks. These locations are the ideal for the placement of electrical and plumbing outlets as they intersect with the channels thru which wiring and plumbing run. Further, the dual purpose interlocks not only hold the panels together, they also provide a sturdy junction for electrical and plumbing fixtures. The interlocks act almost the same as junction boxes within a regular home, only they also facilitate plumbing hardware.
How do you get foam into the outer channel? Actually this is very easy. The panels would come with small disposable tubes pre-inserted into the channels. The tubes would run from the extreme ends the panel channels, up to and out of the cam holes. Several tubes would be sticking out of each cam hole at the time of panel installation. After all the panels are in place, pressurized foam would be pumped into these tubes; this action would fill the channels with foam, making the dome waterproof and adding to its stability.
While our original design was based on foam panels, lightweight concrete panels could be used as well. A dome is after all, a self supporting structure that delivers all of its load forces to its base.
Let’s assume that the domes illustrated here are being manufactured and distributed to people that need to live in them. To further elevate the standard of living one could further customize panels such that:
- Dome panels could have solar panels embedded directly into them. The wiring could be kept within the channels. Inter-connectivity could be managed at cam holes.
- Panels could have LED lights in them. Would be powered by solar. Perhaps each panel would have a switch that enables the panel light to operate by itself or they could all be turned on at the same time?
- Bottom panels could have battery compartments integrated into them so that a certain amount of power would be available after dark.
- Panels could have computers, radios, displays, or TV’s integrated into them.
- The outsides of panels could have a clothes drying apparatus attached to it.
- The outside panels could have fixtures on them for lifting the domes so that assembled units could be moved if necessary.
- Other fixtures like TV antennas or satellite dishes might be fixed to them. Commerce and educational domes might need this type of equipment.
- Perhaps a custom fitting gutter kit around the base of the dome might feed a mini water cistern.
- Perhaps some of the panels at the base of the dome could be outfitted with embedded water storage tanks that could hold rainwater.
- Some of the dome panels could have windows embedded within them.
- The interior sides of the dome panels could be “peg boarded” or “grooved” so that fixtures like cabinets, ceiling fans, shelving, furniture, etc. could be attached to them. The finishes on these interior panels could perhaps have a pleasant wood grain finish.
- Perhaps a small solar driven water timer and pump might feed a few vegetable plants precise doses of water via tubes coming out of the mini cistern (something on the scale of a small aquarium pump). This same mini plumbing system might be used to deliver limited amounts of water for cooking.
- A sink could be customized to attach to a panel and hook up to the mini water supply.
A great many things could be customized and integrated into panels such that every panel could enhance the quality of living for its intended occupants. The key is to integrate these enhancements directly into the panels. By integrating “quality of life enhancements” directly into panels you:
- Simplify kits. Outside of the panels, very few extra parts floating around.
- Lessen the opportunity for damage. If parts are embedded, the panels will aid in safeguarding them from damage much more so than if they were to lay around in the open somewhere.
- By building custom panels with predefined feature sets, costs can be cut. It’s easier and cheaper to “stamp out” consistent parts as opposed to “customizing each part.”
- As more people come up with more ideas all that is needed to integrate these new ideas is a new panel that embraces these ideas.
Mass production, modularization, and investments into this dome design could easily raise the standard of living for people that need help.
Ask yourself this. If I were very poor and had virtually nothing how might my quality of life would be improved if I were to move into a dome with some/all of the features described earlier?
A few closing lines. While everyone enjoys helping others out, it is even more important that those that are helped out are provided with tools and opportunities to help themselves such that they may become non-dependent on assistance from others. Perhaps some of the panels might be have audio/video instructional lessons on reading, writing, sanitation, health, farming, setting up a business, etc. A person that can provide for himself/herself and his/her family will be much prouder of themselves than a person that cannot provide for themselves and their family. Pride in oneself, one’s family, and in one’s country is quite simply “a very good thing!”
If you like this dome idea please forward it to someone whom you think might be able to act on it.
Thank you for visiting Zipblocks.com!