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Underground Homes

Underground Homes

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Published by pegasus999

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Published by: pegasus999 on Feb 07, 2010
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05/11/2014

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Underground Homes
Bill Lishman's uniqueunderground house was theculmination of years of researchand countless hours of design.Why build underground? Thereare many advantages to earthintegrated architecture. With theearth as insulation, heating andcooling energy requirements aresignificantly reduced, especiallyin windy areas. Undergroundhomes offer protection from storms, never have to painted, shingled or have the eaves troughs cleaned out! Underground architecture isunobtrusive, leaving clear views, and can be covered with gardens andlawns.Bill's ideas for underground building emerged in the 70's. Thehouse on Purple Hill was a prefab wooden viceroy cottage. Perched ontop of Purple Hill the house was very difficult to keep warm in thewinter - even after insulating and recovering the house in barn board,wind seemed to pass right through. After building an igloo one winter in the early 1970's, Bill was amazed at how warm it would become justfrom body heat, and how the flame from a lighter or match was all thatwas needed to illuminate the whole room. He read many books onunderground building and energy efficient homes. The idea of putting asquare home under the earth made no sense - caves are not boxes, and
 
the box is not ashape that lendsitself to the immenseload of earth above.Inspired by Britishartist and designer Roger Dean he cameup with the idea to build anunderground homeconsisting of interconnected igloo like domes.Without the money to begin constructionthe idea sat on the back burner for fifteenyear, until the summer of 1988 when things began to take shape. Bill hired familymembers to begin constructing the steeldomes, and hired earth moving equipmentto remove the top of the hill. The domeswere created by erecting a number of vertical steel trusses in a circle andconnecting them with 3/8 steel rod spacedat 8 inch intervals. Vertical rods were thenwelded between the trusses to form a gridof 8 inch squares. The next summer aconcrete pad was poured with rubber tubinglaid throughout for in-floor heating. Thesteel frames were moved into position, connected together and coveredin expanded metal lath.Once the metal frame was completelycovered, Gunnite concrete was sprayedover the entire interior surface, andtrawled smooth. The inside layer wasconcrete mixed with marble powder toform a smooth white surface . Theexterior of the house was covered in awaterproof tar, buried in dry sand and amembrane layer of rubber sheeting was placed over the entire area to act as anumbrella to keep the sand mass dry. Thesand mass is crisscrossed with air ductsthat circulate warm air from thesolariums located at either end of thehouse. Topsoil was then replaced over top of the membrane, covered with grass seed and gardens and nowmust be mowed on a regular basis.
Steel Domes Under Construction
 
Building an undergrounddwelling of this type poses awhole new set of challenges. Thedesign must be well thought outin advance because any changeswould be difficult or impossibleonce the earth was replaced.Upgrades for things like phone,cable and power must be in placeat the time of building. Squarefurniture and appliances do not fitin a round room, there are nocorners to stick lamps, andhanging pictures is tricky. All of these obstacles were overcome with ingenuity and creativity. Eachroom has buried conduit, through which which wires can be passed,connecting it to the other rooms and the utility room. The arched doorswere all hand made by Richard VanHeuvelan, as well as thecupboards, desks and countertops to fit in with the curved walls. Four Seasons Solariums originally used on either end of the house have beenreplaced with energy efficient stud and drywall rooms with large baywindows. Funiture for the living room was created by Wolf Meuller of 
Curved Space
in Toronto and fits in perfectly with the elipticalarchitecture. Even the Refrigerator is round, it rises from thecountertop at the touch of a button, like the one in
 Fly Away Home.
Old Photo of House From theAir

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