Service Members Build Prototype Eco-Dome for Djiboutians

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Volunteers of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Charlie Company construct an Eco-Dome prototype August 27, 2010. The Eco-Dome was engineered by the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture to provide a comfortable, economical and sustainable solution for impoverished and natural disaster stricken-areas. The design allows the structure to be resistant to earthquakes as well as fire, flood and hurricanes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Volunteers of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Charlie Company construct an Eco-Dome prototype August 27, 2010. The Eco-Dome was engineered by the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture to provide a comfortable, economical and sustainable solution for impoverished and natural disaster stricken-areas. The design allows the structure to be resistant to earthquakes as well as fire, flood and hurricanes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - U.S. Army Sergeant Amanda Broome, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Surgeon Cell animal care specialist, volunteers at the construction site of an Eco-Dome prototype with the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Charlie Company August 27, 2010. The Eco-Dome was engineered by the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture to provide a comfortable, economical and sustainable solution for impoverished and natural disaster stricken-areas. The design allows the structure to be resistant to earthquakes as well as fire, flood and hurricanes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell) CJTF-HOA Photo CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - U.S. Army Sergeant Amanda Broome, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Surgeon Cell animal care specialist, volunteers at the construction site of an Eco-Dome prototype with the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Charlie Company August 27, 2010. The Eco-Dome was engineered by the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture to provide a comfortable, economical and sustainable solution for impoverished and natural disaster stricken-areas. The design allows the structure to be resistant to earthquakes as well as fire, flood and hurricanes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Kathrine McDowell)

Camp service members began building an Eco-Dome prototype August 24, 2010 as an example of future building endeavors.

An Eco-Dome is an igloo-type structure built from stabilized earth, sandbags and barbed wire and is an inexpensive alternative to brick-and-mortar structures.

"(The idea came) from a corporation called Cal-Earth out of California," said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Erickson, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion Charlie Company team sergeant. "There was a situation in an area we couldn't get materials to and this (could) work perfectly for it."

The prototype, built by a civil affairs team and camp volunteers, will allow CA teams to see if it is feasible to build in other areas around the region and if it is something that interests Djiboutians.

"We thought it would be foolish to build the first one for someone to actually live in," Erickson said. "We wanted to see if we could actually do it and if it is something Djiboutians would like. This is us building one to show them and to get a little practical experience on how to build them."

If Djiboutians are interested in earth architecture, the CA team will teach them how to build them so the structures can be used for school communities and health clinics, Erickson said. A company in the city of Djibouti is already interested in learning the skill.

When built properly, the Eco-Dome structure can stand up to the elements.

"It's fireproof, windproof, waterproof and earthquake proof," up to an earthquake magnitude 8, said U.S. Air Force Captain Kenneth Carmichael, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa strategic communications planner. "It's very sound proof. There are low bearings on the whole structure so it's not going to lean and tip over."

Earth architecture can help Djiboutians in at least two ways, according to Carmichael.

"The goal is to build for capacity," he said. "This structure is two things: It can be a school or any type of structure they want to make, but secondly, it's a skill - it's expeditionary economics."

CJTF-HOA currently spends $300,000-$400,000 building schools, clinics and other structures, Carmichael said. An Eco-Dome structure 10 feet in diameter, such as the camp prototype, costs less than $2,000. A bigger one 18 to 20 feet in diameter can cost under $4,000.

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U.S. Army Djibouti

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