By building a concrete dome or arch structure with an atrium or one face exposed to the sunlight, sometimes with a cupola structure projecting above ground, homeowners are achieving the best of two world. They get quiet, energy-efficient homes with an abundance of natural light. Because of the dome's structural efficiency the residence is also competitive with conventional construction. One method of building such a home is based on a kit that includes a skeleton of steel to support reinforcing bars and fabric backing for the layer of shotcrete that completes the structure. Standard shapes of hemispherical dome, arch ribs, and 6-foot-long arch sections are combined in kits customized to provide varied plans to suit each home builder's needs.
Working from a scaffold, the crew erects steel members from the framing kit on a previously prepared foundation slab. Fabric panels, which serve as backing for exterior shotcrete and interior plaster, are tied to the steel frame members. Then reinforcing steel is set in place on the outside. Four inches of shotcrete applied in courses no more than 8 feet high completes the shell structure. The shotcrete will be troweled smooth, ready for application of a resilient waterproofing membrane.