Binishells domed structures

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Above is an architectural model of the Happy Mutant Retreat and Preschool we are currently building at an undisclosed location. Once the dome is in place to fend off the gamma rays, we will begin construction in earnest. The structures are called Binishells. Mike Mechanic says:
This is my old friend Nic Bini’s company... His dad, Dante Bini, invented them as an architecture graduate student in Italy. As I recall, he had to borrow money from his aunt in order to prove the basic concept, which is that you sandwich wet concrete between layers of a neoprene-like material and pump the whole thing up with air to create these domes, which have been used to build homes, and malls and swimming pools in Australia... Binishell lay fallow for many years before Nic revived it in recent years, realizing the green potential–the building sector, as you may know, is a huge greenhouse-gas emitter, and these things are relatively low impact (plus you can put lawns on their roofs, apparently.) Anyway, Nic has big dreams these days – LEED-certified eco-resorts, futuristic condos...airport terminals!?


    1. Yeah, you might want to put steps on it to make it easier for your goats to get up the side to mow it.

      1. or just the odd outcropping. Would be fun for the kids to climb as well. Hell, i would not mind putting a flat are up top with a table and chair to watch sunsets and such.

  1. Think I might prefer 6″ or 8″ more between me and my closest neighbors, though. If there’s room, maybe even another foot.

    1. Thanks Anti… I had somehow managed to go through life without that displeasure until today.

      Off topic, but what’s the deal with the harry Potter graphic rendering all quotes illegible today?

      Show me!

      1. You’ve never seen Teletubbies? How could you have missed a show about four gender-bending mutants living in an underground bunker in a psychedelic, post-apocalyptic world? Get better drugs!!!

        1. No, unless one was in a coma for the last 10 years, avoiding the teletubbies would be an impressive feat.

          Now that you mention it, the time might be right to produce a Space Ghost Coast to Coast-style recut of Teletubbies.

  2. Nice. I’d try to orient them to make somewhat better use of passive solar heating, but then I don’t live in sunny Italy. It would be nice to see more eco-design that de-prioritizes portland cement as a major component though.

  3. Off topic, but what’s the deal with the harry Potter graphic rendering all quotes illegible today?

  4. There was one of the “Australian malls” built just to the north of Brisneyland in the late 70’s amid much fanfare. I think it was called “Space City”. It lasted about 2 years before descending into dirt mall status and eventually being demolished. I can also remember a car dealership which used the same structures in the same geographical area.

  5. Nic has big dreams these days — LEED-certified eco-resorts, futuristic condos…airport terminals!?

    It may be worth noting that there are some LEED-certified airport terminals already: Boston’s Logan’s newest terminal A extension & Indianapolis are a couple examples.

    Seeing this designation highlights for me some of the limitations of the LEED standard – it is primarily about design, not operation, and doesn’t reflect the impacts of the structure when used properly. Kind of like the cigarettes doctors prefer.

    I’m pursuing LEED accreditation in order to bring visibility and positive brand affiliations/networking to the cohousing/ecovillage ventures I’m participating in, but harbor no illusions that it is a panacea. It actually may be more challenging to get innovative natural-building structures like these certified, because the energy and other features need to be evaluated, not just filled in off of product spec sheets.

  6. My primary school (Ashbury Public School, NSW, Australia) built a binishell library building in about 1977 or 78. We all took a day off class to watch while they pumped concrete onto the flat bladder on the ground and then and slowly inflated. My memory is that the inflation took a few hours and was far less dramatic than I was expecting. My expectations as an 8 year old were, admittedly, quite dramatic.

    It was pretty small by binishell standards. I have seen much bigger examples used as school halls or gymns.

    The library is still standing and in use. Here it is on google streetview, although partly obscured by trees. The satellite view shows a perfectly circular building with a skylight nipple.,+Ashbury+New+South+Wales+2193&sll=-33.898483,151.118345&sspn=0.007374,0.014505&gl=au&g=56+Trevenar+St,+Ashbury+New+South+Wales+2193&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=19+Trevenar+St,+Ashbury+New+South+Wales+2193&ll=-33.898305,151.119867&spn=0,0.001813&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=-33.898276,151.119976&panoid=_QOGqwZzyblUuV-3fap-SA&cbp=12,169.28,,0,5

  7. Oh yes. They also built a Bini shell at Diamond Creek (in the north-east of Melbourne) for a rec centre – we were there to watch it – but that’s long since been demolished.

    It seems that they’re not terribly durable.

  8. The school I was at in the late 70’s built one too, still standing I believe. Big enough to be used as a sports hall/performance space.

    The two things I remember most clearly were the lack of natural light (only coming from the two doorways) and the extraordinary acoustics. It was hard to hear someone 10 feet away but could perfectly clearly hear a conversation held on the other side, if they were standing in the right spot. Like hearing ghost voices.

    It’s kind of peculiar to see these revived, but I have to doubt the green credentials of anything using so much concrete.

  9. My high school (Pittwater, Australia) had one that was used for a sports hall/performance space and it collapsed on my grandmother who was a cleaner at the school. She survived but got a very squished leg out of it. Luckily it happened about 15 minutes after a class full of kids had left. Apparently the construction process is quite fiddly and they hadn’t followed it to the letter, or at least that’s the reason we got.

  10. There were many schools in Australia that had Binishells built as halls during the mid 70’s (including the Girls high school in my area). After a couple of years, many started to collapse spontaneously (as told by Teasmaid above). From memory, of those remaining standing by the late 80’s, most were demolished and/or replaced with halls made using more conventional techniques.

  11. looks like a very good idea…would appreciate some details on how they are built. how are they waterproof?

  12. I would like some info on the binishells phone # or address to get costs of construction etc. I am looking to build new home soon and am very interested.

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