As blogged on FastCompany.com, in a world where wildfires and hurricanes are becoming more frequent, design for new housing would be smart to anticipate the climate disasters that are coming. So these new buildings aren’t made from wood or any other conventional building materials. Instead, they’re made from bioceramic—which can withstand disasters, and perhaps dramatically lower construction costs.
It’s the design of a startup called Geoship, which is using the material to build new dwellings in the form of a geodesic dome and has plans to produce both backyard cottages and full communities. It’s caught the attention of Zappos and is working with the company to build a small “village” of the domes in Las Vegas near the online shoe retailer headquarters. The plan is to offer them as free housing for some of the many people who are experiencing homelessness in the city.
The dome’s lightweight material has a long list of advantages, particularly in a world where the effects of climate change—and the increase in natural disasters it brings—become more apparent every year. The ceramic is fireproof up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit; in a fire, the house won’t burn. It reflects more than 80% of the heat from the sun, helping keep the inside cool in heat waves. The material is strong, and in combination with the inherent strength of the dome shape, should be able to survive hurricanes. It resists insects and mold. In a flood, it absorbs little water. In an earthquake, because of the building’s shape and the way that the panels chemically bond together, the house should stay standing. The startup estimates that the homes will last 500 years. If people need to leave a particular area, something that will become more likely as sea levels rise, the homes can be disassembled and rebuilt. In the future, if repairs are needed, the same material can be used again because the bioceramic acts like a glue and bonds to itself.