Torus Design

Owen Geiger, Designer

The Torus Design concept was inspired by the movie Thrive, which outlines ways of creating prosperity and equality in the world. The design brings together three emerging trends: increasing self sufficiency — including renewable energy and food production, families moving back together to save money, and sustainability. These trends are evident in the growth of home gardens, organic food, green building, eco-conciousness, off-grid homes, do-it-yourself attitudes, and cost cutting strategies such as bartering and trading for goods and services.

The current version could be used as a duplex (rent the other half to slash your bills). You could split costs with a friend or family member and share the courtyard. A lot of people can no longer afford their own home, so this design offers a potential solution for families to move in together. The design could be customized for large families.

Options not shown: cisterns on the exterior and courtyard, underground Earthbag Survival Shelter with optional escape tunnel, Cool Pantry, rainwater barrels, food forest surrounding the home.

2,224 sq. ft. interior, 564 sq. ft. greenhouses, 1,520 sq. ft. courtyard, each side has two bedrooms, two baths, Footprint: 74’ diameter not including 8.5’ wide greenhouse.

The Plans for Sale

These plans are available as digital PDF files or AutoCAD files and are offered by Dr. Owen Geiger as complete and ready to build from. They include necessary elevations, floorplans, cross section details, and other significant construction details; they don’t show every view, every detail — just enough to build. They do not include electrical and plumbing details. The section views explain how everything goes together and should answer your questions about materials. The plans are scaled and dimensioned.

It is the buyer’s responsibility to find out special requirements, such as what alternative building is allowed in your county or what you have to do to get houses permitted. Are there special requirements for foundations, etc.? Do they require an engineer or architect to stamp the plans? It might be a good idea to know these things before ordering plans.

The AutoCAD version is the same as the PDF version, just in a format that can be read by AutoCAD software or other software that reads .dwg files. We recommend buying the AutoCAD version if you plan to have a professional architect or engineer read or make changes to the plan. This may be necessary in some jurisdictions that require state-licensed architects or engineers to stamp plans before they will be acceptable. Or if you want another professional to make some custom changes to Owen’s stock plans, then AutoCAD version may be the way to  go. If you would like both the PDF and the AutoCAD versions, then just indicate this when you purchase the AutoCAD version and they both will be sent for the price of the AutoCAD file.

This plan is offered with a free copy of Owen’s popular Earthbag Building Guide e-book.


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PDF Digital Plans
(computer renderings)


AutoCAD files

45 thoughts on “Torus Design”

  1. We have looked at this design for the last couple of years and I came across a site that says you can use straw bales in stead of earth bags is that true.

    • It does seem possible to replace the earthbags with straw bales for the walls, if you begin with the earthbag foundation and finish the walls with straw bales. The plan cross section shows the entire wall composed of earthbags.

      • Hi, in response to the notion of replacing the earthbags with straw bales, I would suggest the idea of building with earth bags up perhaps 18″ or so, then starting the bales. This should keep the straw from being unduly affected by moisture from the ground, or splashing. You would have to make the lower part of the walls as wide or a little wider than the bales, to make sure they are sufficiently supported, I would think. Any thoughts about that idea?

  2. hi!
    I would like to ask a QUESTION about the roof structure for the torus shaped building….Which is….
    Can we build a vault on this kind of building?
    if Yes, how can we reduce the cost of construction?
    if not, is there any other type of roofing other than flat or sloping roof, for the torus shaped building?

    • Basically, almost anything is possible. I show numerous options to illustrate practical possibilities, but you can do anything you want. Curved roofs in general though tend to be harder to build and more expensive. One good option for a vaulted roof on the Torus is welded steel pipe trusses. There are shops that specialize in making them. Most shops give free cost estimates. Shop around. Talk to builders, building supply center help desks, architects, etc. and see what’s best for your area.

  3. Dr, i asked you before, whats the max size for a roundhouse and you answered 30′ but this one is 74′

    its far more bigger, what kind of reinforcement used here in this plan/design?

    im thinkng about 20m(65.6′) roundhouse with 14 piers and 14 rooms build for family

    i cant build 2,3,4 different houses because too expensive and im using solar and rainwater, i mean its offgrid

    2 for bathroom and 1 for kitchen, 1 for entrance/store and the rest 10 for normal room with quite big hall and slightly slanted metal roof and concrete bond beam

    maybe i’ll reduced rooms to 10 … not sure yet

    • There’s no size limit if you reinforce the walls properly. It’s just an engineering issue. There are various ways to reinforce earthbag walls with piers, rebar, posts, buttresses, etc. All this is covered on this blog in previous articles.

      We always caution people to start small so you can learn the techniques. Remember earthbag building is labor intensive.

  4. Hi

    If I buy these plans are the details for the options not shown on the diagram(cisterns on the exterior and courtyard, underground Earthbag Survival Shelter with optional escape tunnel, Cool Pantry, rainwater barrels, food forest surrounding the home) also included?

    Kind regards

    • No, I only offer basic plans to keep the cost affordable worldwide. You can add all those features on your own.

  5. Hello,
    I was wondering if this could be made into a hexagon or similar shape and made from straw bales? Could it also be a load bearing wall house or will it need a lot of timber?

  6. Hello,
    I am looking to build this style of home and make it a one family home also. Can you give me the number of bags needed for this home and the measurements of the front greenhouse porch area?

  7. I have questions regarding the Tarus design, and possibly modifying for one family. with 1 laundry room, 2-3 bathrooms and 5 bedrooms. How do you figure out the amount of bags you will need, also plumbing? electrical?

    • Roundhouse roofs do require more careful thought, but they’re not that difficult. One thing that may be throwing you off is the roofing itself is not set on a curved surface. The trusses would actually form a multi-faceted shape that’s nearly round but not quite. Each facet or section is flat. Truss manufacturers figure this all out for free if you order from them.

      We just replaced the thatch on our roundhouse with microconcrete roofing tiles (MCRs) with good success using this same basic concept. It was not particularly difficult. Any carpenter or semi-skilled homeowner can do this using MCRs or metal roofing (much easier). You have to seal the seams where each section comes together.

      By the way, the thatch worked fine for a few years and looked very good, but the kind available here is not very durable. We knew that from the beginning and had planned on adding a new layer every few years. We decided not to bother with repairing the thatch and instead use a 25-30 year maintenance free MCR roof.

      • hi guys,

        Dr, i’ve seen few MCR roof vids on youtube, but for this torus shaped we need more than one mould? Or cut it with when its still wet? Maybe I should see more vids on this …

        • MCR roofs are tricky on roundhouses. Our roundhouse roof sometimes leaks due to all the angled joints. Metal roofing is way easier to work with.

          • what kind of metal? can u be specific Dr? so we ask someone to preBuild the roof in few parts and assemble it later? less parts is better so less joints?

          • Regular metal roofing. Seal the joints and screw it down. Then add a ridge cap on top of each joint and seal those carefully.

  8. Thank you. In that case, can you tell me what is that room next to the bathroom? I don’t understand what it says. Mech?
    I would love to see the underground room or at least get the measures and where it would be placed.

  9. Hi, I’m very interested in this design. It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for. However, there are some areas that I can’t identify because the image is very small. Can you please send an image with more resolution? There are things that I can’t read and my English is not that good. I would also like to know if this design can be modified to include a partial second story, or if it can have a high roof to include a loft.
    Also, my husband is interested in the underground room to make a music studio. Are there any pictures of that or more information? Thanks!

    • That’s the only version I offer for free. You can order the plans from Dream Green

      Yes, you can modify the plans as you describe. People have already ordered 2-story versions, etc. However, I’m no longer doing custom plans. You can buy the CAD files and hire a local designer to modify the plans just the way you want.

  10. I am interested in buying this plan. Has anyone brought this concept to life yet? If so are there any pictures? Also, I am having a hard time trying to find out how to implement electricity (solar panels) and plumbing with earth bag building. Is there somewhere you can direct me for being completely off the grid?

    • Electrical: run the wire in the recesses between courses of bags. Chisel away the bags for junction boxes, etc. 1/4″ steel rod is used to pin junction boxes in place. This is covered in my ebook and on this blog. Search keywords such as electrical, junction box, 1/4″ rod, etc.

      Solar: same as any other house.

      Plumbing: Run plumbing up through the floor and interior plumbing walls as much as possible. It could also be run inside cabinets or against earthbag walls. This is covered in my ebook also.

  11. It would be a good design for northern Canada where one has to worry about kids, bears and wolves. This design provides that protection. A square house with an inside play area would probably be easier to make for most builders. One could have the main L shaped house on one side, a shed on the next side with a bath house, followed by a garage and wood shed or chicken coop. I like the roof design, not for myself but I think that a round roof may do well in tornado valley as the wind would be more inclined to follow the circle instead of hitting straight on.

  12. Hello,

    Nice design there, do you have an estimate of how much it would cost to build this house (Windows, doors not included), just the bags etc….

    Thank you for the informations you provide, i have taken a liking in this kind of house and i am still in the research process .

    Thank you !
    Best Regards,

    • This would take a long time even with a skilled crew. We always suggest starting out with something small and simple like a tool shed to develop your skills. After that you’ll have a better idea how fast you can go (speed varies a lot).


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