An interesting find from the recent spate of hurricanes in the U.S. is that a particular type of building structure seems to hold up surprisingly well to the ravages of extreme wind and water. The reinforced-concrete dome – or “Monolithic Dome” as one company has branded it – has shown time and time again that it is up to the task of surviving extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, earthquakes, and even tornadoes. After hurricane Katrina blew through Biloxi, Mississippi, the concrete-domed New Life Family Church, was one of the few large buildings in the area left standing. A couple in Pensacola, Florida are so taken with Monolithic Domes that they rent out their “Dome of a Home” in order to spread the dome gospel. The “Dome of a Home” has been through three major hurricanes – Dennis, Ivan and Katrina, and survived all intact.

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In addition to being safe, sturdy and weather resistant – Monolithic domes are extremely cheap, easy to build, and energy efficient. They are also fire-resistant, mold-resistant and impervious to rot. They’ve become the building type of choice in disaster relief areas, as they can often be erected in a couple of weeks with minimal materials and resources. Building them basically just consists of pouring a concrete foundation, inflating a a heavy-duty, dome-shaped “balloon”, erecting steel rebar scaffolding around that, and then spraying Concrete (Shotcrete) over the outside. For more information on building a Monolithic Dome, check out The Monolithic Dome Institute’s guide

Their only major drawback to Monolithic Domes seem to be that they are so insulated that they usually require air-conditioning and de-humidifiers to keep them dry and ventilated. Also, the rounded walls make them more difficult to furnish and decorate. And of course your neighbors might complain.

For more information about Monolithic Domes, see The Monolithic Dome Institute >