Pilings

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Demolition is complete, the lot is cleared and the pilings are set!

Protecting the delicate balance of the barrier island while building structures was our ultimate goal when we selected the various products to use. The Dome of a Home is not only unique in its outward appearance. Throughout the construction of the home, from the pilings to the skylight, many of the products being used are unprecedented in their application.

In keeping with the Siglers’ desire to use new technologies that are more energy efficient and environmentally benign than their predecessors, the pilings they chose were the Seaward’s Seapile Pilings.pilings_2

With a home designed to physically last centuries, using wood or concrete pilings was impractical. With a viability of decades, wood and concrete pilings would severely shorten the lifespan of the home. Seaward International’s SEAPILE pilings compliment the dome structure by their longevity and environmentally-friendly characteristics.

SEAPILE pilings are made of recycled and recycle-able composite materials. The SEAPILE composite piling is made of plastic that has been structurally reinforced with fiberglass rebar, making them impervious to corrosion, termites, and borers. Unlike chemically treated wood, the SEAPILE piling does not leech chemicals into our environmentally sensitive beach. And unlike concrete pilings, the SEAPILE does not begin to pit, allowing the rebar to corrode.

The SEAPILE piling is placed into the ground by conventional methods. Davis Marine Construction jetted the sixteen pilings several feet into the ground and drove the pilings to grade level outlining the perimeter for the future dome structure.

Alan Potts from Seaward International was extremely supportive and excited about the latest venture for the use of the SEAPILE piling. Mr. Potts and the Siglers hope to expand the publics’ awareness of this advanced alternative.

Seaward International, Inc. is a manufacturer of high performance foam-filled marine fenders, buoys and floats, and composite marine pilings and timbers. Using the same technology, Seaward International is also developing an environmentally-friendly railroad tie. More information about these pilings can be found on Seaward’s website: www.seaward.com

pilings_1After the pilings were placed in an oval shape, a concrete ring beam was created. Steel rebar is placed vertically around the ring beam footing and then the concrete is poured. Later in the process, the embedded bars are used to join the concrete shell with the concrete ring beam.

The Monolithic Dome Institute, ( www.monolithicdome.com ) fabricated the airform that becomes the home’s shell or frame. The Airframe is made of a very heavy PVC vinyl fabric whose seams are sealed with microwaves. Five men for five days worked to complete the airform. After being attached to the ring beam, the airform requires less than thirty minutes for the fans to inflate it. The fans will run continually throughout the construction of the shell of the dome.

Once inside the inflated airform, the world becomes surreal. Sounds echo and reverberate. Listening to music in the empty airform is a unique experience as it surrounds and reverberates through you. In some parts of the dome, a whisper is easily heard. In other areas, raised voices barely carry. Being inside the inflated airform is somewhat overwhelming. The expansiveness is belied by the exterior appearance. Inflation day was joyous and touching. How often is one’s home framed in a matter of minutes? Now, if they could only discover an inflation method for the complete product.

The crew that drove the pilings into the ground pounded them over 400 times. No distortion or mushrooming or damage occurred. They said they had never seen anything like these pilings and were significantly impressed by their strength, durability, and resistance to damage.

During Hurricane Ivan, it became apparent that the pilings were actually flexing and moving in the 8 feet deep quicksand slush that had become our yard. On one of my interior walls, the decorations were tapping from the gentle rocking motion of the Dome. Mark determined that the entire house must be rocking because the pilings were strong enough to flex. We don’t know how concrete or wooden pilings would have reacted under that kind pressure and movement, but we are extremely happy that our SEAPILE Pilings withstood the test of Hurricane Ivan, the Terrible.