Basalt Reinforced Domes

I’m not a fan of concrete monolithic domes, but the use of basalt roving reinforcement is an interesting technique that could be used with other building methods. It’s very strong and doesn’t rust. Consider using it in hurricane and earthquake zones.

“We use basalt roving for EcoShells. This is the scaled down uninsulated version. The dome on the video is demo only. It is 10 foot diameter. We often build through 40 foot diameter. For most of the housing in developing countries we build from 20 feet diameter to 40 foot (6m to 13m). We use this size also for medical clinics, schools, etc.”


19 thoughts on “Basalt Reinforced Domes”

  1. In the construction of a monolithic dome replace the Portland cement with a geopolymer cement, which can be made from locally sourced natural material and/or industrial waste, and replace the steel rebar with basalt (a natural forming rock) rebar and you will have a nearly indestructible home that WILL last 600-1,000 years with little to no negative eco footprint. As for them being ugly, you can always paint them or tile the outside. Then you can have a very beautiful house in one or more colors.
    As for the polyurethane foam insulation, there are all natural foam insulation options on the market.

  2. Monolithic domes with basalt reinforcement. Made with materials that are inexhaustible. The strongest, longest lasting structures available for the price.

  3. Do you know of any North American built domes using basalt rope? Have the building codes being updated to make it usable?

    I agree that the domes are ugly, but seem to be effective.



    • An engineer will most likely approve the use of basalt and so they don’t need to update the codes.

      Sorry, I don’t know of any other structures like this. It’s still experimental from what I can see.

  4. Hi Owen,

    Can you please enlighten my non grasping mind – as to what happen to the Basalt Roving (hair like substance)once entombed in the concrete. Does it transform into something else ? They compare it to FibreGlass.

    How does it strengthen the building ?


  5. This little ecodome would make a great tornado shelter. As tornados are not long events, it wouldn’t take much space to survive one.

  6. Ok. Like most alternative homes, I see few dome’s and imagine it’s a pain getting the permits.
    Funny, i imagined the strength of the dome shape and its ability to cut the effects of wind. With the insulation of straw bales.
    So far i still like a straw bale home. Perhaps one with extra thick walls. The ceiling is the weak point for insulation. That’s why i had some interest in arch dome shapes. But i think I would end up with something like a home from your plans With a traditional roof. Just with more insulation. Cotton or Felt or something recycled.

    • You can get a permit for a dome. The main reason there are not so many is because most people want more conventional looking homes.

      I’m a big fan of post and beam with straw bale infill. Use factory trusses for ease of building or poles if you’re on a tight budget. Set the bales after the frame and roof are up. Recycled cotton, wool and cellulose roof insulation are all good choices.

    • Natural builders try to minimize use of cement, steel and other high embodied energy materials, as well as build simply and affordably. Monolithic domes don’t meet any of these criteria, plus to me they’re very ugly. They’re way too industrial and impersonal. Compare to traditional domes made of natural materials (ex: Hassan Fathy) that are super beautiful and practical (in desert climates).

      • Interesting. Cement is made from all natural materials. So is basalt rebar. Since such a building can EASILY last 600-1,000 years it is EXTREMELY eco friendly. Illogical that “natural builders” would not want to build them.

        • Three problems with your view point:
          – Cement requires an enormous amount of energy to produce. Cement plants burn enormous amounts of energy. There was one cement plant about an hour from my house and it looked like a small city all lit up at night. I got to take a tour in one of my engineering classes and it’s clear to me after seeing what goes on there that using lots of cement is not sustainable.
          – Most cement buildings degrade in under 100 years. Anyone can see this for themselves by looking at old buildings, bridges, etc. Bridges are built at very high standards for safety and yet you can see old bridges falling apart after 50 years or so.
          – Cement is not affordable to billions of people. Earth is. Stone is. Straw is. The answer is to use natural, locally sourced materials as much as possible rather than energy intensive manufactured materials.

  7. The basalt roving was rather expensive and hard to find 1-1/2 years ago. That’s why I didn’t publish this video back then. Hopefully things have improved.


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