Binishell domes are thin-shelled reinforced concrete structures which became popular after the first was built in the mid 1960’s by the Italian architect Dante Bini. Since then, roughly 1600 Binishells have been built in 23 countries across the world (Levy, 39). The domes were well accepted due to their quick construction time, low cost, high strength and reduced carbon footprint when compared to conventional construction.
They range in height from roughly 36 to 115 feet and have been built to span up to 300 feet. Due to the versatile nature of Binishells, they have been used in the construction of schools, housing, sports arenas, shopping malls, storage buildings and silos (Binisystems). The domes are constructed by inflating a membrane which lifts reinforcement steel and wet concrete into the desired shape by varying the air pressure within the membrane. The unique construction needs to be followed accurately and if it isn’t the domes quickly lose their structural integrity. Due to faulty construction practices, there have been issues with the domes’ strength and in a few cases, Binishells have failed to the point of collapse.
When built properly, these domes have the potential to provide living space that withstands fires and earthquakes, starting at $3,500.
Now is currently being taken to the next level by his son, architect Nicoló Bini.
The concept is much like inflating a balloon, covered in papier-mâché, except in place of the papier it uses concrete with a wood & metal support structure. A giant, inflatable membrane is covered with the support structure, concrete is added and it is inflated until the concrete can dry and harden in position. Binishells range in size from a single room to domes 120 feet in diameter.
While Dante's father was interested in pushing the technology further and making the domes bigger (in some cases to disaster), Dante has decided to go smaller, making them cheaper and easier to build.
Other companies have jumped on the idea, some even modifying it. In the below video, Monolithic shows us how easily one of these can be built.