As many readers might have noticed, a geodesic dome has been established since the beginning of the fall semester behind Brumbaugh Academic Center. Juniata student, Jake Weller, a senior from Maryland, is living in a geodesic dome of his own design for the entire academic year. Here’s an interview speaking of his endeavors so far.
How did you come up with the idea of living in a Biodome? Did you have any significant inspiration?
It was just something that I wanted to do. How to design a structure to provide for the majority of basic needs on a budget was (and still is) a question I found intriguing. There are lots of people out there doing similar things; this sort of lifestyle, though perhaps, not quite ubiquitous, certainly isn’t anything new. Also, my father lived in a tepee that he built for several years, which I’m sure had an influence.
Was it difficult to get everything set up so that you could live comfortably in the dome or “okay” it with Juniata?
Setting up the dome was actually quite simple. It took about a day to set up the structural elements (frame/floor/roof) and get everything inside. The systems, such as the solar power, composting toilet, etc. took a little longer to set up. I have just (in the last couple of weeks) set up the rain catchment system and heater.
How much time did it take to think up this plan? And how much money, if it’s not too personal, did you end up using to complete all of it?
I would say that I began working on the project in earnest around the middle of last year. Although it is hard to quantify exactly, because of donations, salvaged and pre-owned materials, etc, I’d say it has cost me around $2,300-$2,500 dollars. Keep in mind, though this is a rough estimate. It would probably cost considerably more, say $4,000-$5,000 if someone were to start from scratch and buy everything.
Do you still use the school restrooms?
I have a composting toilet, which I use in lieu of school facilities (pardon my pun). Of course I still use the college facilities when they are more convenient, when in class for example. As for showers, I have recently gotten the rain-catchment system set up, so I’m using that for showering now.
Do you ever miss life in the dorms/indoors?
How are you managing to stay warm in the November weather/planning to stay warm?
I am running a small Kerosene heater, which is working well. I am experimenting with using thermophilic compost for its waste heat, but we’ll have to see how well that ends up working. Also, having the temperature lower than room temperature in the winter is fine once you get used to it. I have found 45 or so degrees to be plenty comfortable so far.
-Sam Stroup ’12, Juniata Online Journalist