Domes For The World (DFTW) constructs durable housing and complete community systems for the world's needy.

Domes For The World (DFTW) constructs durable housing and complete community systems for the world's needy.

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

DFTW addresses the need for affordable, durable housing and public facilities in Latin America, the Caribbean and other destitute areas through the construction of reinforced concrete Monolithic EcoShell domes. EcoShells are permanent, fireproof, and disaster-resistant and can be built entirely by hand using about $1,000 in basic materials.

Construction of an EcoShell begins with the placement of a ringbeam footing and the pouring of a circular steel-reinforced concrete slab floor. An Airform, a tarp made of tough, single-ply roofing material, is attached to the ring base and inflated. A grid of steel rebar is then placed to the outside of the Airform, and embedded in concrete. Once the concrete is smoothed with a trowel and sets, the Airform can be removed and reused.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

DFTW's projects benefit virtually everyone as people are provided with homes, hospitals, schools, food storage and community buildings that are durable, easily maintained, disaster proof, cost effective and attractive. Such projects promote community pride. They stimulate economic growth by providing employment and through the purchase of construction materials locally whenever possible. DFTW maintains a network of professionals: architects, designers, engineers, cost analysis experts, project developers and construction supervisors skilled in working with and training a local work force. It can design and construct projects ranging from one or two buildings to entire urban or rural communities, including infrastructure, roads and sewage systems.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Factors that make DFTW unique: 1) Training in dome construction skills and technology that includes teachers, tools, materials, video and manual with easy-to-follow, cartoon-like drawings. 2) Employment for skilled laborers during and after DFTW's presence. 3) Support of local economy by purchasing supplies locally when possible. 4) Affordability: In 2007, DFTW rebuilt an Indonesian village destroyed by an earthquake by constructing -- using native labor -- 71 EcoShell homes at about $19/square foot, including all infrastructure. 5) Flexibility: Domes have a clear-span interior and can be designed in virtually any size and to fit any use: home, hospital, school, office, jail, etc. Their exterior can be enhanced to fit local, cultural preferences. 6) DFTW's network: professional architects and engineers who have planned urban developments and construction managers who have worked with and trained native residents. EcoShell technology was selected for structures at New Oroville, a private company-campus owned by Catalytic Software, Hyderabad, India, including housing, offices, parks, swimming pools, gardens, clean water systems.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

DFTW was retained to build EcoShells in Indonesia in 2006 after a devastating earthquake struck Yogyakarta on the island of Java, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving another 1.5 million homeless. The region most seriously affected by the earthquake was densely populated, with people living in small villages separated by rice fields. One village in particular, Ngelepen, was especially hard hit. Homes were not only rocked by the quake, but swallowed whole by a catastrophic landslide. In only six months, DFTW created a model village that was designed to showcase best practices in the reconstruction efforts. Named New Ngelepen, the village consists of 71 two-story concrete dome homes and six public lavatories including laundry, toilet and shower facilities. Because the housing was completed under budget and three months ahead of schedule, DFTW was also able to build a mosque, medical clinic and primary school without requesting additional funds. While the EcoShells built in New Ngelepen were a first for Indonesia, these unique dome homes have already been built in countries such as Sudan, Nigeria, Haiti and tsunami-affected areas of southern India. In the Hyderabad desert of India, Catalytic Software, Inc. has constructed an entire town of EcoShells to house its software engineers. The company town, christened New Oroville, also features domed recreation centers and offices. EcoShells are now being considered for other parts of the globe stricken by disaster, and could prove to be one of the best solutions available for alleviating the world’s serious housing
About You
Domes for the World
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Domes for the World

Organization Phone


Organization Address

177 Dome Park Place

Organization Country

, TX, Ellis County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, YO

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

David South co-invented the construction process now used by DFTW with his two brothers Randy and Barry. Looking for a way to improve on techniques Buckminster Fuller had used to build geodesic domes, they came up with the idea of using Airform technology to construct a one-piece, steel-reinforced insulated concrete dome that they called a Monolithic Dome. They knew that the compound curve of the one-piece dome would make the building stronger than virtually any other structure, while the concrete’s thermal mass would keep the temperatures inside the building stable. That was 1975, and the dome was a simple but durable potato storage facility in Shelley, Idaho. But it led to a patent that launched an innovative construction system for homes, schools, churches, sport and commercial facilities. Now there are Monolithic Domes in 48 American states and 45 countries. As Monolithic gained a foothold in the construction industry, David and his staff began working on the design of a dome that would provide affordable, durable homes and community buildings for the needy living in temperate climates. Called EcoShells, these dome structures are a variation on the Monolithic Dome, with the main difference being that they have no polyurethane insulation. In 2006, David established Domes For The World, a nonprofit foundation to promote the introduction and acceptance of EcoShells and Monolithic Domes in emerging nations. Since then, DFTW has made some significant strides and continues working toward the alleviation of sub-standard living conditions worldwide.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001 - 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

We see the faltering global economy as our greatest barrier, since rises in unemployment and cost of living always impact contributions and donations. But we do not see this as a barrier that cannot be overcome. We are reaffirming our determination to fight world poverty. That fight includes: introducing our program to and consulting with the governments of destitute countries; working with government and private organizations that have similar or complementary goals; applying for grants and donations; launching media campaigns; networking and keeping the public informed via our websites. Our goal is to intensify all aspects of our program so DFTW is easily recognized, called on and accepted as a help provider.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

DFTW is currently partnering with MODDHA (international NGO foundation helping orphans and widows worldwide) and ESPWA (in Creole, Pwoje Espwa means Project Hope) to reconstruct Orphanage Project Hope in Haiti. DFTW will allocate $60,000 and provide equipment, materials, designs and training for the construction of EcoShells. In Phase 1. beginning in 2011, DFTW will build 11 structures: 9 as dormitories; one as washing/toilet facility; one as dining facility. We see no limit to the number of projects DFTW could be simultaneously involved in around the world. We only see a growing need for help. We plan to provide training, tools and methods for constructing superior shelters and complete community systems wherever we can.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

Friends and Family - DFTW was founded by the South family, which invented and patented the process for building Monolithic Domes and Monolithic EcoShells. Family members are currently at the helm of the organization and involved at every level.

Individuals - Donations to DFTW come from individuals all over the world, and range from $10 to $3,000.

Foundations and NGOs - Monetary donations to DFTW have been made by luminaries such as WANGO-World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, Friends of the United Nations, Semnani Foundation and Profiles in Caring.

Businesses - Signifcant financial support has been provided by major companies such as Dubai-based Emaar Properties. DFTW also collaborates closely with Monolithic Constructors, Inc., DBA as Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI). MDI trains builders in the techniques of building Monolithic EcoShells.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

DFTW plans to work closely with private developers over the next three years. The organization is currently seeking financing from private developers around the world. DFTW also has plans to work with governments, NGOs and other private parties. But most of all, the organization plans to seek the support of international money groups that can fund the finished houses.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Technology, Energy conservation, Green housing, Environment.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

The Ecoshells that DFTW is building in developing nations around the world are economical, eco-friendly and thin-shell, hence their name. Unlike most of the housing currently being constructed, they are built with 2 or 3 inches of concrete and a modest amount of rebar. Compared to conventional, rectangular buildings with the same square footage, EcoShells use less than 50% of concrete and rebar in their construction. They also take less money and time to construct.

EcoShells use readily available, environment-friendly materials, so trees and other local, natural resources are conserved. Construction can be done by hiring local labor with very little special skills and/or equipment.

The domes' compound curve makes them stronger than virtually any other structure. They are as disaster proof as a building can get and will withstand tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and fire. They cannot be burned, eaten by bugs or destroyed by mold and will last for centuries. And because of the concrete’s thermal mass, the Domes' interior temperatures remain stable.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

DFTW is currently collaborating closely with Monolithic Constructors, Inc. and previously received major funding from Dubai-based Emaar Properties. Other projects include:

Mongolia -
Jerry and Susan Smith - Change the World Ministries
Orphanages and Rentals

Kenya -
Ralph Hoey - World Youth International
Medical Clinic and Housing

Sudan -
Abraham Gai - Global Healing
Orphanage and Low Cost Housing

Bolivia, Sri Lanka -
Rudolf Burggraaf – Burggraaf Exact (NGO)
Dome Project – Nayan Utaja
Low Cost Housing

India -
Peter A. Tower – Solid Shell Builders
Numerous Low Cost Housing

India -
Swain Porter – Catalytic Software
Low Cost Housing, Low Cost Apartments, Commercial Buildings

Mauritius -
Christian Mongelard - Pleasure Pools Contracting Ltd.
Low Cost Housing

Haiti -
Steven Kirby
Orphanage and Low Cost Housing

Haiti -
Dan Hildebrand – Hildebrand Construction
Orphanage and Low Cost Housing

Fiji -
Matthew Humphrey
Low Cost Housing

South Africa -
Jay Emery – Dingley Dell Enterprises
Low Cost Housing

Ethiopia -
Wesley Haws – Allwest Dome Construction
Orphanages and Low Cost Housing

Bahamas -
Ron Canning
Low Cost Housing and Storage

Mozambique -
Stephen Wilson
Numerous Low Cost Housing

Dominican Republic -
Cathy Orient - The Bible Chapel
Low Cost Housing

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

Monolithic Constructors, Inc., DBA as Monolithic Dome Institute, trains builders at workshops held four times per year at its headquarters in Italy, Texas. Participants learn how to build Monolithic Domes and Monolithic EcoShells through classroom and hands-on training. Emaar Properties, in partnership with WANGO, provided a $1 million grant that make it possible to rebuild an Indonesian village that was destroyed in a landslide after an earthquake. DFTW has also collaborated with the other organizations listed above in building Monolithic EcoShells in developing nations to meet a variety of different needs -- from orphanages to medical clinics.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Foundation of the company.