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The final episode of the Malka Dome... Last Newsletter I wrote ten more days and that it should be possible to finish... well... finally this time it proved correct! We did finish it on time. The last bag was laid on Sunday afternoon, June 15. The Dome is standing strong and from the right angle it even looks like a dome! From some other angles it looks more a pyramid.. Quite a few obstacles came along (as usual) but each was overcome. One time two layers of newly layed bag started to slide and almost fell off, very tricky once getting higher and the curve starts turning inward quicker.

Next obstacle was that we needed to step in quicker but with the bag having almost slipped off I realised we couldn't step in more, now what to do? Continuing to step in at the maximum possible amount would give a pyramidical top. I don't know if this matters for the strenth of the structure but even if not, without disrespect to the ancient pyramids intended, I set out to make a dome!

The solution came simple and worked most of the way, we made the bags less and less high, by putting less mix. Also this had a limit but the result is definitely more like a dome.

One of the reasons that we ran in this problem is that we bought 15" bag, as the dome was meant to be 15', but 15' became 5 meters as I thought it to be about the same. Finally 5m was used for the inner diameter as my supervisor liked it a bit bigger.. so finally the dome became almost 18'! And normally we would use the wider 18" bag for it, which would give a lot more space to step in. (guess this is only clear to someone who build a dome already...)


Its growing and growing Children for the daily meal distribution

The laborers started to like it more and more and always had fun climbing on top, especially for photo's. Also a program had started to provide daily nutritious food for the children of the nearby villages. So every afternoon 50-100 children filled the compound... and they also liked to climb on the Dome. It took a while to explain that this was not a good idea while construction was in progress.

The house next to the Dome with roof and after a little storm, without roof...

One morning we came early (to start early) but nature had something else in mind. The sky turned dark and a big thunder storm came rolling in. We had to run for shelter and watched the weather become more violent. The square brick building next to the dome had just have it's corrugated iron roof completed and most of the laborers were hiding inside. We were in the old mud house about 100 meters away and could only watch when we saw half the roof being lifted off, blown away and landing a good 30 meters further completely mangled. The other half came off a minute later and landed just beside the building, fortunately not hitting anyone! It was close. Now any one wants a dome house?! No roofs that can be blown off! After 30 minutes the storm was gone and work started.

Inside photo's

Some inside photo's, showing the height of the wall. Every time you feel that it's really high but after a few days looking back it seems not high at all. Funny how ones perception changes. People climbing on top first time wouldn't dare to stand on the wall but once used to it we walk on it without worry. The entrance door to the central dome on the right still needs to be shaped. Once done it will also have a nice arch, The stabilised earth is quite hard but unlike concrete it is still easy to break, so with a hammer one can adjust the shape before giving it a beautiful finish with plaster. On the same photo you can see the centre pole with the chain used to measure the exact radius. On the left photo you can see the chain used to measure the shape of the wall/roof. Also you can see how the bag is filled on the spot..

A whole delegation, and taking notes! smaller and smaller circle from the noon sun

An other day a whole jeep full of monks and nuns from around the world arrived to see the project. Suddenly I found myself in the limelight with many asking questions and taking notes. One member from South India was also there who before his retirement worked for a major bank funding projects like these. He told that it compared quite favorably to many other alternative methods he saw and was quite impressed with it. Unfortunately he is not working there anymore...

On the right is the circle of sunlight at noon. I was watching it's radius decrease every day till there was only a small dot left. At this point standing on the edge we were about 5 meters up. It's a long way down... but somehow you get used to it quickly. Some more photo's but less writing below :

Mixing the mix or Masala as it's called locally Getting there...


Inside the biiig dome Building domes is fun!


After the PP tube was removed and after the plaster was applied


Preparing to apply the plaster  


Sunset on the dome, with thunder clouds behind And the pyramid, um, dome is finished.


And that's it at the point I left. Looking like a nice dome from this angle. The small dome on the right is plastered,
the one in front half finished and the rest not yet done. The bag was removed before applying the plaster.

Let me mention again that the technique used is called Super Adobe and was developed by Nader Khalili. The design of this dome was inspired by his Eco-dome design. To learn more about Super Adobe and Nader Khalili check the website Without all the learning and inspiration from the course I did last year at the "California Institute of Earth Technology" (Calearth) this and future projects wouldn't have been possible.

If anyone wants to learn more and get practical experience please feel free to come and help on my projects already planned or otherwise I am happy to go anywhere on this earth to assist and teach (next year).

Or if you can go yourself to Hesperia in California and take a most inspiring one week course directly with Nader Khalili.

Next Newsletter from the Davao, Philippines. At present sweating to level the ground and put a concrete slab for the dome. (Well, right now, it's two weeks later and the dome is near finished... hopefully done by Friday... My return flight is on Saturday.



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