Dome Home, Domes.

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition - Dome homes

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Design an affordable housing prototype

Define the Problem

Affordable housing has becoming difficult to find over the past years. Homes that are considered "affordable" are in bad shape or in dangerous neighborhoods. This is usually because they are older homes and their life-cycle is reaching its end. Owners often can't feel proud about their homes because they are in such bad shape. This should not be the case. Just because someone can't afford to pay top dollar doesn't mean they should live in a home they can't feel proud of.

Collect Info

The location will either drive the house up or down in price. It is adequate to choose a location where the buyer will earn just above the median income of the area because it will give him some freedom and flexibility on payments. The heat in Las Vegas will also be a challenge, so energy bills raise up drastically because of the use of air conditioning over the summer. The streets are 15th and Oakey ave, zip code 89104. The median of the chosen area is around 37k and the annual salary of the intended client is 10k above the median (47k). A couple blocks away is the Charleston Plaza. It counts with a pharmacy, a supermarket, and fast food.

Brainstorm Ideas

The goal is to design a house that is mainly targeted for a recent graduate who is still paying a student loan. On the other hand, the house should still be able to be inhabited by a mid-sized family and/or handicapped people. The house should also be low cost in maintenance so things such as building orientation and sun shading should be take into consideration. The life-cycle should also be long in order for the structure to not need any major repairs for at least 50 years. The living space would be projected to be between 1500 and 2000 square feet. The base could have inclined walls to take advantage of the sunlight without it directly hitting the house.

Develop Solutions

Domes are a great option as the previous articles suggest. Although my intention is to create a home with a universal design, some of the dome because space would "wasted". To counter this I have decided to make the first floor have a typical foundation and two-by-fours. The wall will then connect to a dome which will serve as a second floor and a roof. To help with the roof there would have to be a coat of some sort of rubber roof sealant to waterproof and protect from the sun to keep the inside temperature cooler. There will be a bedroom downstairs just in case the residents cannot access the second floor. Solar power should also be considered even though domes are already energy efficient.

Final Design

I decided to reconsider the dome after being drawn away from it several times due to complications when modeling in 3-D. The final design is much different from the original but in the same ways it proves to be better. It is an 1800 sq ft. 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home with a monolithic dome that serves as a roof and second story. It takes on a modern look on both the outside and the inside. It counts with many of the benefits mentioned in previous steps which includes the lowering of energy cost and heat resistance because of the rubber coating. The home is projected to be around 175,000 but the cost of utilities will lower over the years.


I really appreciate the creativity aspect of your project. You truly made yourself stand out from the rest of the competition by taking on a different stance on your design and how you went about solving the problem. Designing a dome while also executing it very well sets you apart from other contestants within the competition.
Competition Jury 3 years ago
Kerl Lajeune - You get my vote for originality. Affordable housing and design is not always intended to be or look the same as all other projects. This takes a leap into what other possibilities exists and that is appreciated. A dome, both structurally and visually, offers a great deal of opportunities for materials, sound, visual connection, spacial arrangements and strategies.