If you’ve ever wanted to stay in an earthbag dome home, here’s your chance. When Lisa Starr first purchased land in Joshua Tree, California, she wasn’t thinking about vacation rentals. Instead, the artist and drum medicine woman sought a place not too far from the coast where she could build a sustainable life for herself. After deciding to build in accordance with the Iranian architect Nader Khalili’s affordable and disaster-resilient superadobe methodology, she recruited volunteers and CalEarth alumni to first work on a few practice domes that eventually evolved into the “village” that can be booked through Airbnb. This extra income comes as an unplanned perk, but her real dream – to pursue her work as an artist – required building a couple more domes.
After completing the practice homes, Starr and her crew of interns, volunteers and CalEarth alumni worked on her personal space – a 1,360 square foot dome home two connecting hallways. The 18″ thick walls, comprised of 15 percent cement and 85 percent earth, provide the thermal mass to keep the buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter, according to her Facebook page.
Starr told Inhabitat she believes in sticking with “traditional Nader” – focusing on being creative with smaller structures rather than 20- to 30-foot domes. Khalili, who founded CalEarth to share his design and life philosophy with others, promoted sustainable homes that could be built with materials found on site. And that’s exactly what Starr was able to accomplish. She says she sourced 75 percent of the materials used in her dome structure from her own land.
While her home is private, guests have access to a “rustic yet luxurious camp-like experience” in the village. With expansive views and open skies day and night, “star gazing is a must,” says Starr. The village includes two 8-foot “Sleep Pod Earth Dome” structures with storage or a cave-like space for a child to sleep in. Each pod, which comes with a full size mattress, bedding and solar-powered ceiling light, can accommodate up to a family of four. In winter, tea light heaters keep the space warm at night.
The communal area includes a shaded outdoor kitchen and kiva fire pits, along with a shower house and outhouse complete with a flushing toilet and sink. Guests are encouraged to bring their own bottles to refill with potable water available on site.
Now Starr is working on building another 12-foot dome structure to use as a studio, honing in on her original intention. She has been living at Bonita Domes for four years now, and though it comes with its challenges, she says her dream has catapulted forward.
Images via Bonita Domes and Dylan Magaster