Architecture

Could the eco-friendly Binishell dome be set for a revival?

Could the eco-friendly Binishe...
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
View 19 Images
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
1/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
2/19
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
3/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact.
4/19
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact.
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
5/19
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including a flexible option designed for customized private homes and resorts
6/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including a flexible option designed for customized private homes and resorts
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact
7/19
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
8/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
The new Binishell domes have a lower center of gravity, are monolithic and continuous point of connection to the foundations
9/19
The new Binishell domes have a lower center of gravity, are monolithic and continuous point of connection to the foundations
The new design is said to make the domes compliant with international building codes, as well as more resistant to to the forces of nature
10/19
The new design is said to make the domes compliant with international building codes, as well as more resistant to to the forces of nature
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact.
11/19
In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact.
The new Binishell designs include a flexible option designed for customized private homes and resorts
12/19
The new Binishell designs include a flexible option designed for customized private homes and resorts
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one for low-cost and disaster relief housing
13/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one for low-cost and disaster relief housing
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one designed for middle income housing and educational facilities
14/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one designed for middle income housing and educational facilities
The new Binishells have been totally re-engineered every aspect of the technology to not only make them safer, and easier to build, but also greener and more affordable
15/19
The new Binishells have been totally re-engineered every aspect of the technology to not only make them safer, and easier to build, but also greener and more affordable
Everything from the anchoring system in the foundations, to the reinforcement bar, to the concrete mix, the design and materials used for the bladder has been redesigned
16/19
Everything from the anchoring system in the foundations, to the reinforcement bar, to the concrete mix, the design and materials used for the bladder has been redesigned
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
17/19
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
The new Binishells have been totally re-engineered every aspect of the technology to not only make them safer, and easier to build, but also greener and more affordable
18/19
The new Binishells have been totally re-engineered every aspect of the technology to not only make them safer, and easier to build, but also greener and more affordable
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one designed for middle income housing and educational facilities
19/19
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell, including one designed for middle income housing and educational facilities
View gallery - 19 images

It may not come as a surprise that a papier-mâché-like building technique using an inflatable membrane and concrete dome is yet to really take hold. It was in the 1960s that architect Dr Dante Bini pioneered the Binishell as a cheaper and more eco-friendly way of construction. While this led to the building of more than a thousand domes, the practice was largely abandoned, due in part to concerns surrounding their stability. Dante's son Nicolo, also an architect, is now looking to revive the Binishell method, with a view to providing low-cost housing solutions around the world.

In the 1960s, as they are now, Binishells were championed for their relatively quick construction time and low environmental impact. A foundation slab is laid and a large bladder anchored to it, stretching right to the perimeter. Concrete is then poured on top and the bladder inflated, creating a dome structure as it sets.

The same pneumatic wedge method was employed by a team at the Vienna University of Technology to construct a concrete shell structure last month.

The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster
The company claims that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster

The construction method was efficient, but structural issues were reported and in some cases, led to their demise.

"Of the 1,600 Binishell buildings that were built between 1964 and 1980, two have had to be demolished for structural reasons," Nicolo Bini tells Gizmag.

One of the dismantled domes was used as a venue for exams, conferences and graduation ceremonies at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. The 11 m (36 ft) high dome was designed by Nicolo's father and constructed in 1979 using 300 tons of concrete, steel and membrane. A risk assessment conducted in 2009 revealed structural issues with the building and it was promptly demolished in around fifteen minutes.

"Reactive clay in the soil caused the footing of the Binishell to twist, subsequently causing the shell to crack," said Facilities and Services campus manager, Brian Start, following the demolition. "In more recent times the external thermal membrane had started to fail."

So while the principle largely remains the same, what makes Nicolo Bini so confident his approach can negate the issues that plagued the Binishell's early iterations?

"We have totally re-engineered every aspect of the technology to not only make them safer, and easier to build, but also greener and more affordable," he says. "Everything from the anchoring system in the foundations, to the reinforcement bar, to the concrete mix, the design and materials used for the bladder."

Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell
Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell

Nicolo Bini says that these enhancements make the new domes compliant with international building codes, as well as more resistant to to the forces of nature.

"Our domes have a lower center of gravity, are monolithic and continuous point of connection to the foundations," he reports. "All this makes them far stronger in resisting loading from earthquakes and high winds. Their natural aerodynamics, derived from the construction process itself, also minimizes wind loads. The fact they are made from concrete makes them more able to resist fires and flooding."

Nicolo Bini's company has devised three new models of the Binishell: one designed for middle income housing and educational facilities, another for low-cost and disaster relief housing and also a more flexible option, designed for customized private homes and resorts. It is claimed that the Binishells use half the resources of comparable traditional buildings, cost half as much, use half the energy and can be constructed three times faster.

The company is set to to put the new Binishell design to the test and will begin construction of a full-scale home in Malibu later this year.

Source: Binishells

View gallery - 19 images
11 comments
Sirmike
Instead of Malibu they should build one in Florida or wherever tornadoes and hurricanes are. If they can stand up against those sort of winds, their sales should be assured.
owlbeyou
Tornado and hurricane resistance is definitely a good thing Sirmike. I have an issue with the cookie-cutter homogenized neighborhoods shown in the photos. Most N. Americans mat not take to this kind of design, even though it is a "green" concept. If they can be built sporadically, they would have a much higher appeal and chance of getting realized...
It looks like the Tele-Tubbies live there : )
BigGoofyGuy
I think they are really neat. The ones with a green roof remind me of an updated Hobbit house.
lwesson
Now to rewire human beings to feel at home in bug type engineered dwellings. Why not? Social engineer types, are never satisfied with people anyway. Maybe it is all a really deep laden personal issue?
There seems to be a constant theme in some or all architectural circles, for Bug/Alien type of design. Perhaps the "invasion" has begun long ago...?
bergamot69
What if these were built with a double-skinned membrane? One sealed membrane underneath that could be inflated to give the building its shape and temporary support, and an outer membrane, also sealed, and containing some kind of reinforcement for the concrete (perhaps a flexible plastic interlinked honeycomb structure- wire reinforced maybe) that could be filled with foamed concrete?
The membranes could be kept in place, to provide both waterproofing and also an ideal moisture-retaining environment in which to cure the concrete. Once the concrete had cured to a greater extent, the air could be let out of the inner temporary support structure and replaced with a foamed insulation, eg polyurethane.
Of course, the membrane material would have to be inherently fire-resistant, and the property would have to be properly ventilated, preferably with mechanical heat recovery, or by other passive means.
taconia
Why to commentators keep touting a shell as affordable housing? The shell, even with insulation, is one of the cheapest components of a building. Among the more expensive: Windows Doors Electrical Plumbing Heating and a/c Flooring Tilework Cabinets
Fine this shell looks nice and can be produced quickly (if you can get a cement truck and all the rebar there. But it also makes doing the interior much more expensive because of all the fitting.
the.other.will
The only reason the neighborhoods in the concept drawings appear any more homogenized than existing subdivisions is that the artist chose to put many similar size homes of the same color together. A real neighborhood could have several different models, each in a wide variety of colors. The double-skinned membrane idea sounds pretty good.
Mr T
Not the same construction method, but a mob called RAL homes make nice modular dome houses here in Oz, and they use a lot less concrete! See http://ralhomes.com.au/
JSSFB
I love the look but do not think that it would catch on in Europe as they would cover too much ground and not have the required housing density.
Bruce H. Anderson
Another source (been around for a long time) is http://www.monolithic.org/