Instructable: How to Build an Earthbag Dome

Instructable: How to Build an Earthbag Dome by Owen Geiger
Instructable: How to Build an Earthbag Dome by Owen Geiger

Note: This is probably the closest we’ve come to going viral with our message about earthbag building. Skim to the bottom of this blog post and look at all the sites that are posting this story. And that’s just a few. The surge of interest came from my recent articles at, which combined have racked up some 88,000 hits in the last few days. I mention this because it’s another indicator of the popularity in earthbag building. Now, on to today’s post.

We built this earthbag dome at our home in Thailand for Mother Earth News Magazine in 2007. The article that describes the complete building process in detail was published August/September 2009. It is now free on the Internet: Low-Cost Multipurpose Minibuilding Made With Earthbags, by Owen Geiger.
[Ed: This 5,000 word article explains everything you need to know to build the dome, and is the most complete dome building guide now on the Internet.]

This earthbag dome Instructable simplifies the process and illustrates each step of construction with photos. The two critical drawings are also included here.

This multi-purpose dome can serve as a storage shed or cool pantry above ground, or as a rootcellar or storm shelter below ground. No building permit is typically needed, because it is below the minimum size required by building codes, is not inhabited and is not attached to a residence.

Earthbag structures provide a cool space in summer and an escape from the cold in winter (ideal for humans and animals), which means this earthbag dome is well suited for many purposes, like a quiet space for relaxing or playing music, as well as those listed previously. Depending on your needs, the most practical combination of uses might be a rootcellar/cool pantry for daily use and a disaster shelter for emergencies such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

The key concept that makes earthbag domes work is corbelling. This means each course (each row) of bags is inset slightly from the course below. Corbelled domes made of adobe and stone have been built for thousands of years. The concept has been applied to earthbags in the last few decades.

You can read the entire article for free: How to Build an Earthbag Dome

It’s also been selected by The Daily What as the DIY of the day on Monday, January 31, 2011. The story has also been picked up by Neatorama. and No Tech Magazine, The World’s Strangest, Regator, Facebook, Offbookbeatbox, Google Buzz,, Pop Culture Matters, Lovely Listing, Twitter, StumbleUpon and many international sites.

2 thoughts on “Instructable: How to Build an Earthbag Dome”

  1. Wow nice blog, really seems to be very interesting and information provided by you is much useful. I am looking for such options and I found it over here.

  2. I am so happy to have found this site! I have just started planning buying land and getting off the grid, so am in serious research mode right now. I had no idea about earthbag construction until tonight, but after scouring the web for more and more info, I am totally sold.

    Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information!


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