Steve’s Dome in Thailand — Take Two

Steve’s jungle bath: just one of many outstanding features in this innovative home.
Steve’s jungle bath: just one of many outstanding features in this innovative home.

The blog post the other day about Steve’s Dome in Thailand has caused quite a stir. Read the Comments there to get the background story. Here’s a follow-up report about what’s been happening since. The images of Steve’s home are spreading across the net very fast…borderline viral. This confirms my initial opinion that this home is worth taking a closer look at because it is so exceptional. (See his photo galleries here and here. However, I’m taking some flak for my decision to publish a home built with concrete (reader requested, by the way). This was the first and only time I’ve done this, but in this case I felt the home was exceptional enough and had many interesting features that could be used in houses made of sustainable materials. In other words, we can learn from studying homes built with all types of materials. This was all clearly explained in the original blog post.

Here’s a quick recap of my points:
– People can learn by studying all types of homes, even homes built with non-sustainable materials.
– I explained in the original blog post how this structure could be built more sustainably. Options include using 1. low fired brick (very common in the area), 2. ferrocement, 3. stabilized CEBs preferably with thatch or metal roofing. I highly recommend roofed domes in rainy climates to prevent water damage.
– Steve has since been in communication with me and informs me they are starting an eco resort built of sustainable materials. More details soon. The larger lesson here is getting people enthused about building their own home. Through research and trial and error they can learn how to build more sustainably and save money. This is exactly what’s happened in this case. Bashing Steve for building something less than the ‘ideal eco home’ is unfair and unjustified. And sending me hate mail for trying to spread the word about natural building is totally out of line. I reserve the right to screen objectionable comments.

Here’s a comment from Zafra that similarly expresses what I’m saying:
“My two cents – I saw the post on naturalbuidingblog with that image. The author didn’t just publish the image on the blog and let people believe that it was a natural building. The text is perfectly clear that the example was not done in a sustainable way but that it could be. It clarified what about the construction was not sustainable and how it could be imitated for its style using alternative materials. That seems to me to be a perfectly legitimate post for a blog like that – showing design inspiration and offering methods for how to achieve similar results sustainably – that’s how people get inspired and at the same time learn to think in terms of alternative building possibilities to realize their dreams. Now, if someone republishes that image as a natural building without having read the text that accompanied it that is the responsibility of the person who is republishing – that is sloppy, careless work and that person should be called out for not reading about what they are publishing. If you’re too lazy to read the text you shouldn’t be using the image.”
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5 thoughts on “Steve’s Dome in Thailand — Take Two”

  1. There are other ways to build domes as well. You could use pozzolans for example. /but even if you use cement you can get super strong domes that use about one third as much cement as a conventional building of the same size.

  2. That bathroom (and the photo) is certainly magazine quality. I wonder what magazine this house will get published in.

  3. I’m sure Owen will attest that I have been one to challenge him on a topic from time to time. I’m not bashful about challenging his statements if I disagree.

    On this topic, Owen is 100% correct. Owen’s post was done in a fair manner.

    The only legitimate area for even small criticism in this case might be whether or not Owen’s post sufficiently drew enough attention to the “naturalness” of the structure, but in my humble opinion, arguing shades of grey in degree of emphasis is a very weak argument.

    Don’t like Steve’s structure? Fine. It’s easy to criticize someone else while you are sitting in a generic fossil fueled heated/cooled manufactured house with a gas burner or two sitting in the garage.

    Get up off your butts, and go out and build something better. SHOW everyone how YOU are so much smarter and better at building. Are you willing to let others criticize your work?

    I cannot and will not try to speak for Owen, but I’d wager that Owen would welcome your efforts if you do try to build something. He might even feature your work on a blog post. That way everyone can pick your life apart too.


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