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New ancient-ish building ideas for multi-disaster resistance

 
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I am pondering how to design a single story raised earth dome (possibly with a cupola), keeping multi-disaster resistance in mind.  

Would it be possible and beneficial to combine interlocking joints and a primary support as in the youtube examples below?

Reference links:

Regarding the main pillar in a structure being disassembled at 3:27 through 3:46 minute marks; then 4:29/interlocking technique:




Example with earthquake:

6:49 through 8:54 minute mark:

The attached image is what shaped up so far.  Please pardon my ignorance.  I'm learning a lot fast, but know little about construction.  For now, this is about combining old time-proven ideas into a viable concept for current and future challenges.  (What if nature sends F6 tornadoes and Cat 6 hurricanes to get the attention of people not paying attention?)

I am pondering multiple vertical walls working with movable levels or platform parts, resembling more the pagoda / earthquake example above.  Might this be done so walls and levels counterbalance each other in varied directions to keep a structure intact?  

Perhaps large bamboo filled with cob could fit into separate walls and levels so strategic points create interlocking joints?

Pertinent to multi-natural disaster resistance, the attached image shows very rough ideas.

Each dark green square represents 3'.  I don't yet know how to depict a side view in LibreOffice Writer on Linux Mint Sylvia/Mate desktop.  

I live in Florida and in most places here it makes more sense to build up, not dig down.  Underground waterways course through most of Florida and it’s really a long skinny, shallow, floating shelf.

So, the outside of the outermost wall is 15' high at the top step.  This outermost wall has a lower wall maybe 2' high around it that is not shown because it doesn't fit on the page.  Between that 2' high wall and the 15' wall, Jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke for their deep taproots are planned between tall varieties of bamboo.  That should keep bamboo from running wild while deep (choke) taproots protect the seating of the wall.  What also is not shown because I don't know how, is each of the lines extending outward from the center create wall divisions or parts of each wall, so those can shift back and forth in an earthquake and to foretell where shift soil concerns may exist so those can be addressed as time moves along.

The white N S E W lines coming from the center of the image to outside the dome, are 3' wide downhill rubble trenches that extend past the outermost wall.  That is not shown entirely because there is not enough room on the page.  I’m not sure if extending these rubble trenches in so far is a good idea because flooding could send water inside and between the walls.  Help or hindrance.  Undecided.  Or perhaps the innermost outer wall could be several feet deeper than the others?

Where each trench meets a wall, there are 4' x 3' platforms(?) between steps going down to the dome structure.  This is space to keep and move things while working in areas of the inner garden terrace, which is also not shown entirely because all those lines make the drawing hard to look at with the grid background.

All the walls around the garden terrace are planned to be slanted to direct rain water for catchment and / or toward the N S E W rubble trenches.

Each small white circle is a bundle of large bamboo to form columns.  There are sixteen such columns around the outer dome.  There are eight such columns around the 15’ x 15’ center of the dome.

The brown N S E W lines between columns at the garden terrace and dome, are arches.  I've looked at many and still not sure what kind yet.  I am thinking the bottoms should flare outward some to help prevent toppling.  If these are also curved vertically around the columns where they meet, these should help support the columns and the columns should help support the arches.  I am thinking 1 inch or 2 inches of space between the arches and columns so there is room for shifting for counterbalancing.

Living space within the dome is divided into equal quarters.  There are eight arches inside the dome, around the 15' x 15’ center which is also divided into 4 movable parts.  Each arch is a doorway to a living space, so there are 2 doorways to each.  Each arch is counterbalanced between columns.

If there is plumbing or electrical inside (not planning on it, only considering a possibility), then when the inner walls are being constructed and in place of conduit there could be an open / exposed dug-out-of-walls-just-deep-enough area for plumbing and electrical to fit into.  I don't like the idea of indoor electrical and plumbing at the moment though because how to accommodate for shifting in an earthquake / tornado / hurricane has not come to mind.  For the purposes of disaster resistance, both seem to invite dependencies rather than more permanent (in my perception to date) solutions toward a the smallest possible carbon footprint.

For windows, to diminish damage from debris (as with a hurricane or small tornado (we don't get big tornadoes here), perhaps two 1' x 4' windows in each wall section which would put 8 small taller-than-wide windows in each living space for light.

I like the idea of heavy pocket doors in the arches, but that would seem to diminish the strength of the arches.  Or maybe it doesn’t.  Undecided.

The circle in the center between the four living spaces, is intended to be a shelter, part of which is higher and part is lower.  Then, hypothetically, it would be possible to move up or down as needed.

The height of the platform the dome will be placed on remains debatable, though currently I'm guessing no more than 3' feet above the height of the 15' outermost wall.

Not shown in either image, is a hill raised to be level with the 15' outer wall and adjoining that at a so far undecided place, to provide a protected under-raised-earth space for holding water for the garden terrace, washing, cooking, and bathing.

Codes for composting vary and mostly against.  The ideal would be an unincorporated area property with codes favoring natural building.  I dream.

Since focus is on natural disaster resistance and because currently I'm in Clearwater, Florida, the only escape from a tsunami would be sufficient warning to get out of the area.  I've only been around for a few very small tsunamis and those devastated fishing and small businesses on the coastline.  Not sure what to do about tsunamis.  Move to another state?

This was a lot to read.  Much thanks in advance for feedback and alternative ideas.
multi-disaster-resistance-dome-ideas.png
[Thumbnail for multi-disaster-resistance-dome-ideas.png]
multi disaster resistance dome ideas
 
pollinator
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Wow...thank you, I have learned a lot watching your provided video.

I like how the floating central pillar works, and think that is just plain ingenious. But I also like the work Wheaton Labs and Paul Wheaton has done with Rock Jacks. This is more inline with fences, but it got me to wondering...could framing be used in a rock jack way so that the weight of rocks upon the outer rock jack framing, be secured to the inner framing of the home to help hold it in place with weight? If done right, it coud still "float" so movement in a earthquake could be minamalized, but at the same time, it is pretty difficult to drive a 2 x 4 through a rock-fortified home...unlike a home protected by vinyn siding, plywood, insulation and then drywall. (LOL)

I have always loved timber framed houses, and once made a set of timber framed kitchen cabinets. This gave me a problem though, because in a normal house, the frame is on the inside. But for kitchen cabinets, I wanted the frame to show, so I built it backwards. Timber framing (2x2's since it had to looked scaled down), were on the OUTSIDE of the kitchen cabinets. This provided ridgidity, but also the look I was after.

In a similar way, a timber framed house could be built. As an Earthquake occured, the outter frame would move in pendelum-like fashion and counteract the movement from the earthquake, and yet that same rock actiong as a counteracting pendelum would be defensive cladding from flying debris. It is possible that such a building would be earthquake, hurricane and tornado resistant. I mean it is a simple concept, if you cannot dig down into the earth as most stormshelters are, bring the protective rock in cladding around the building, and help hold it down by a mass that also moves!
 
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There are lots of different structural ideas you are thinking about here, which may or may not work together to provide stability in various circumstances. Different types of structures will be best suited to different environments, so you need to define the conditions you are going to build in and prepare for. There is no universal best design for natural disaster resistance.

First off, any structure depends on its base, the earth beneath its foundation. Much of Florida is sand or sandy soil, I don't know how deep is typical, and this can shift drastically in an earthquake, even behaving as a liquid in some cases. Depending on the earth stabilizing the structure may not be wise there, rather, making a structure that is (flexibly) locked together may work best. Domes and arches depend on their bases staying put, or at least moving as a single unit. On the other hand, I haven't heard of earthquakes being a serious hazard in Florida, while wind and rain certainly are. Domes and arches can have tremendous stability against those forces, and independent movement provisions become relatively unimportant.

We can talk at endless length about various systems, but I think it would be more useful to first define what conditions you are preparing for, and then address specific characteristics of elements that help with those.
 
gardener
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Catherine Windrose wrote:

I live in Florida and in most places here it makes more sense to build up, not dig down.  Underground waterways course through most of Florida and it’s really a long skinny, shallow, floating shelf.

I know of a house built for a small island in my region which was built according to the "house boat codes". Essentially, built on an aircrete foundation which can float. The house was towed on the water over to the island. Every time there was a super-tide, they pushed the home further up until it was on the spot on the island they wanted it on. I think they then used chains to rocks for control if a problem storm occurred.

Looking at the map of Clearwater, Florida, I'd think about building something that water couldn't get in. I'd design the windows to have sturdy shutters that would clamp shut if bad weather was forecast. I would also design it to sustain at least twice the expected maximum wind gusts. I remember seeing communities in Florida completely flattened by hurricanes. That said, some stuff I've read about domes suggests that they're harder than some other shapes to keep from leaking long term. Yet, domes are some of the strongest shapes for withstanding really bad winds. Possibly the combination needed is a dome shape, but covered with edpm  (just an example here: https://epdmroofs.org/what-is-epdm/) followed by some finishing surface.

You mentioned bamboo. Certainly choosing an appropriate bamboo to plant particularly in the direction of the greater threats, could be helpful. Bamboo is known to do well in earthquakes as it stabilizes the ground and flexes with the movement.

I don't know what the expected tsunami risks are for various parts of Florida. The shape of the coast coupled with the exact type of earthquake can make a huge difference. Recent history shows that areas of the southern US have received huge amounts of rain in very short periods. With the decrease in natural areas and increase in what is referred to as "hardscape" - surfaces like roofs and roads that don't absorb any water - I would be as worried about water from rain causing flash flooding as much as tsunami. You would need a certain amount of land around your home to be able to use permaculture techniques of water management to control the water. Again, you'd need to guess at the likely directions it would come from and build "soft" structures - like the bamboo - to slow, redirect, and divert the water and anything a flash flood would pick up along the way, before it gets to buildings you're trying to protect.

I don't know if any of these thoughts will help you. Good luck with whatever you decide to try.



 
Catherine Windrose
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Thank you so much for the thoughtful insights, Jay.  

When I posted this idea, I was planning on staying in Florida.  After reading more on permies and listening to podcasts, I decided to relocate to Montana.  I paid the boot-to-be-fee and planned on being at Wheaton Labs in early December.  Buuut, broke an arm :(  It was suggested I pay ant rent, which I did.  So the long term plan that originated as staying/experimenting in Florida became a short term plan for Montana.

While the arm heals, I'm learning as much as possible about materials, structures, techniques, tools, skills, and learning from podcasts.  Expecting to be back on track after physical therapy is done for the arm in a couple months.

Also, today while re-reading suggestions and studying ideas in the 'preliminary housing for 6 boots' thread, I decided to get cob and other materials to build idea models.  Something to keep constructively busy with when my eyes are tired from reading ^.^  And I want to experiment with using stabilized earth with cob.  I also want to experiment with basalt products like rebar, rope, and mesh.  So many ideas... like stars in the sky :.)

Pertinent to your comments, aircrete is like a miracle material.  I've seen some designs where it was layered between other materials and it is demonstrably bullet proof.  I had intended to experiment with making an aircrete/cob dome in Florida, though now I'm grateful to have left hurricanes, mosquitoes, and alligators behind along with the miserable humidity, mold, and 7-8 months of summer :.)  I much prefer four seasons and a longer winter over long summers.
 
Jay Angler
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Catherine Windrose wrote:

had intended to experiment with making an aircrete/cob dome in Florida, though now I'm grateful to have left hurricanes, mosquitoes, and alligators behind along with the miserable humidity, mold, and 7-8 months of summer.

I'd be grateful to leave hurricanes behind after seeing some of the pictures of whole communities flattened! However, every ecosystem I know of on earth has its good stuff and its bad stuff. I have long supported the need for building standards to be far more location specific than they are, to reflect the risks of specific ecosystems, utilize the pros of those same ecosystems, and that building standards reflect reasonable expectations that the building will safely *survive* natural disasters, rather than simply enable the people to survive. Too many people die of the complications that occur when they live through the disaster, but their house and all their belongings are gone.  

A funny example of when the "thinking" was scewed: The Canadian Government demanded that every government installation write up a safety plan for a long list of "natural" disasters like fires etc. They complained that an Observatory had failed to write up a flood plan. The staff involved sent back that the "plan" was that all the staff would collect in the *lower* parking lot, look off the cliff and wave to the locals as they washed out to sea.

Even though you've relocated (I'd wondered about that because you have Montana under your name,) the same principle of this thread apply. I agree that there is much ancient architecture (100's year old cob homes in Britain for example) that deserves to be protected, modernized when appropriate, and shamelessly copied when it's demonstrated its strength through survival.
 
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When I took a timber frame course a number of years ago, the instructor showed pictures of jointed structures in Japan, some of them many stories tall, and with slate roofs, which have withstood earthquakes and many of which are hundreds of years old.  The reason is that the joinery allows the wood to flex.  Some of the pins which peg the wood joints together snap in an earthquake but the structure just twists and groans with no significant loss of integrity to the overall shape and strength.  

By contrast, with conventonal wood construction (2X4 or 2X6" boards) when the structure twists it often pulls them free of their nails, and it loses all it's strength and integrity.  Canadian codes require more nails at more angles to alleviate this problem, and as such the suburbs in Japan that were built by Canadian contractors tended to last through quakes better than suburbs built by contractors from other countries which have less standards.  The demand for Canadian carpenters in post quake rebuilding skyrockets after this fact is known.  Timber frame, however, is a much stronger way to go.  It does take a lot longer to timber frame a house though.
 
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A few years ago there was a huge earthquake in Tibet, with huge numbers of fatalities.  A while afterwards I read an analysis of traditional tibetan building and how it had fared in the earthquake.  It was pointed out that the traditional structures (post and beam, usually infilled with rock or brick) had come through the earthquake, for the most part, in pretty good shape.  The reason for the high mortality was the concrete/ modern styles of construction that had been widely adopted in recent years because they were cheaper.  Post and Beam provides both flexibility and rigidity.  It divides the infill into smaller areas, which, if they fail, aren't catastrophic.

An alternative building style I've heard of is that in the old days along the gulf coast they built the houses on poles, hoping the inevitable storm surge would pass underneath.

A third style of building is heavily reinforced concrete.  Not very permie, but pretty danged permanent!  It might get soggy inside (i.e. you could drown).

In Florida, from what I can see your most obvious dangers are probably wind and water.  

The main protection for a major tsunami is to not be where it strikes.  I had a brother-in-law who was a missionary in Tonga back in the 70's.  He told me that a tsunami hit the mission presidents home.  They had some warning and went into a cast concrete rebar reinforced building (not their home, I think it was a garage) for protection.  The tsunami filled up the building about neck deep (at which point he and his family were starting to get concerned), but then it drew back.  Their house was destroyed, they survived, many did not.  My brother in law said the Tongans called tsunamis 'blood waves' and when they hit a smaller island they often swept it clean of animal life.  Eventually population pressure on the larger islands pushed the people back out onto the empty island.  The waves were rare, so generations could live on the smaller island before the blood wave hit again.  Lesson learned:  Build inland and on higher ground.  

You also have sinkhole problems because most of the state is setting on a thick layer of limestone which is riddled with cave systems.  Once the cavern gets too big, the roof caves in and makes a sinkhole.  (I have only been to Florida once, for a few hours, so I'm stereo-typing here (as I'm typing)).  I don't know if you can get a seismic survey, it seems like there should be such a service in florida.

Bamboo growing tall on the windward side of the house should greatly reduce the wind pressure on the house.  it has the advantage of being light, less likely to damage your roof than an oak tree falling over.  I would not plant the bamboo too close to the house (maybe 3/4 - 1 times the hight of the bamboo (plant a tall, timber type bamboo), potential fire hazard.  Green, nonflammable stuff close to the house.

Focus on roof attachment and not letting the wind get under the roof.  Lower is better for wind resistance.  A shallow roof will stand up to the wind better than a steep roof.  Stay to a single story, if possible.  I've never lived in Florida, but I've lived in Alaska where we got chinooks (a big wind off the mountains, can easily go over 100 mph, also warms everything up maybe 50 degrees or more).  I asked a friend of mine who had spent several years in Florida why they had so much wind damage from hurricanes, he said the building codes in Florida were less stringent.  (I'm just reporting what he said, I don't know), but maybe you need to go above code, especially on roof attachment.

My brother left his car in a movie theater parking lot in Anchorage, Alaska the night of a big chinook .  It blew the roof off the theater and it landed, of course, on my brother's car.  (He was thrilled, it was kind of a wreck anyway, but the insurance paid him off and he fixed it with junkyard parts).  

Good shutters have already been mentioned.  They will save your windows, both from wind pressure and from debris.

Make sure you make sure water drains away is away from your house, using slope, drain pipes, whatever else you can think of to keep water away from your foundation.

If you are building your house, look into using conduit instead of romex wiring.  Your probably more likely to loose your house to bad wiring than a tsunami.

A creeping threat you probably shouldn't overlook is termites.  

The answer to most threats is the old real estate mantra, "location, location, location".  If you're twenty miles inland and ten or twenty feet above sea level, it will take a tsunami of biblical proportions to reach you.  Half way up the hill is better wind protection than being on the crest.  (I realize that being 20 feet above sea level and half way up a hill may be impossible in Florida, but hey, I've never lived there so I don't know what it's like.
 
Catherine Windrose
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Jay Angler wrote:"...look off the cliff and wave to the locals as they washed out to sea."


Humans.  What to do with us? ^.^

I see images of cob buildings or stone, like Knap of Howar, and keep thinking there is a way to blend old proven with newer materials (like basalt products) and techniques.  One big difference between then (3000 BC-ish) and the present seems to be we cannot always acquire and use the most suitable materials as needed.  Or build how and where it makes the most sense.  And time has become such a commodity that the cost of labor and other pressures wants to interfere.

In face-to-face discussion, getting past mention of a 5' thick stone stem wall with 3' thick cob walls around strawbale seldom happens.  People are aghast at the amount of time and physical effort required to make such a dwelling compared to a wood frame home.  Yet there is the cost of otherwise compensating and standing tests of time that ancient structures have already endured.

Time and priorities were also managed differently in the not so distant past.  My Grandmother felt shelter came first because subsistence hunting and foraging made having a garden busy work or a luxury.  Eventually she made a garden.  However if something had to be let go for awhile, the garden was the first casualty.  Raising a small amount of livestock was second casualty.  Her perspective was strictly practical toward the least amount of effort to produce the best end result.  Hard work and time were assumed and not avoided unless the end result was not worth the effort.

Sometimes I am misperceived as wanting, or expecting others, to regress to cave dwelling :-)  I see no reason why modern technologies cannot coexist while being more kind to the earth.  Perhaps different rules might need to be applied with the primary guideline being to avoid self-destruction through short term thinking.

The Knap of Howar.  I cannot imagine the time it took to make this dwelling.  I wish the builder(s) could know their home is still here and respected for the thinking and efforts that made possible its longevity.

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x489bb6d29346ff3b%3A0x6995d54722296bee!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipPDmYNTFOkJ_HCSsu6Qt8EJRN4S8o497edE0kt5%3Dw255-h192-k-no!5sKnap%20Of%20Howar%20-%20Scotland%20Island%20of%20Papa%20Westray%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipPDmYNTFOkJ_HCSsu6Qt8EJRN4S8o497edE0kt5&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwju6Muij8rnAhWXITQIHa8CBGsQoiowEXoECAwQBg
Knap_of_Howar.jpg
[Thumbnail for Knap_of_Howar.jpg]
 
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This is far from an ancient idea, but for my money, I think the least-exploited hurricane-proof building site is the seafloor.

Now hear me out. Imagine having a life as a seafloor-anchored regenerative vertical mariculturalist. I know this isn't yet a thing, but people have been working on seafloor-anchored vertical mariculture to replace the New England fisheries operations for at least a decade now.

Imagine airlock-equipped habitats grown on the seafloor using biorock, which would host coral species and work to reverse ocean acidification as it grew. Imagine riding out a hurricane, and only knowing it was near because you'd need to drop the maricultural infrastructure to 100 feet below the surface to avoid the waves.

Imagine living through an EMP without noticing it, or an UV radiation blast from some celestial phenomenon, or a temporary weakening of the earth's magnetic field, simply because under that depth of water, it doesn't affect you or anything under about 100ft.

I suppose you'd still need to design the wire forms such that they produce an earthquake-proof structure, but that's already pretty much figured out.

-CK
 
Mick Fisch
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Chris, I've played with that idea in my head.

What would be even better is something that floats a few feet above the sea floor.  Deep enough to be unaffected by waves, off the sea bed to be unaffected by earthquakes.  About the only thing you would need to worry about would be giant meteors, other than mundane things like a leak.  Another idea would be a floating house (maybe a sandwich wall construction with foamcrete in the middle) that could submerge about 100 feet or so in the event of bad weather.  

The good news in the tropics is that your home would be the core of a new reef, (coral needs something solid to grow on).  As time went on, your walls would get thicker.

I'm afraid I'm wandering into science fiction (not because it isn't doable, just because it's not economically viable).
 
Catherine Windrose
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@Chris Kott

If living under the seas could be done without negative affect, why not?  Then success becomes a matter of interest, motivation, diligence, and time.  And perspective.  Perhaps a bit of dancing with life.  Determining what really matters and doing, or not doing, whatever it takes to support that.  Can humans live like humans under the seas?

I am thinking only certain individuals would be interested in living under the seas.  I think some of us will want to always be able to see the skies at night and the sun and clouds and such.  Maybe there's a way that could work.  I haven't given it much thought because I enjoy the elements.  Especially the wind and rain and moving waters.  I think dancing under water would be more strenuous than a simple enjoyment :.)  I would rather have a green roof top to watch the stars from, strong enough I can dance under moon shine.

[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.


https://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
 
Mick Fisch
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Post and Beam construction is really old.  7,000 year old well conserved is a link to a 7,000 year old well made using big oak beams mortice and tenoned together.  According to the currently accepted theory that was prior to metal, so they were making these joints with (probably) bone tools.  I guess the archaeologist were able to duplicate the achievement.  The reason we find stone structures is simply the stone doesn't rot.  I think where ever wood was available, people mainly used wood.

There is a tendency to act like ancients weren't very bright.  People have been pretty clever as long as they have been people.  I think the deeply stupid have a better chance of survival now than any time in history.
 
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