What's Not to Like About a Cheap, Portable 'Smartdome'?

Tiny homes have their merits. But they also have pitfalls.

By Athena Wisotsky

What's Not to Like About a Cheap, Portable 'Smartdome'?
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01 June 2017

The pros of a living in a dome, as far as I can see it:

  • Novelty
  • Views
  • Energy efficiency
  • Strong construction
  • Minimal belongings
  • Relative affordability

Those are all good things, and what’s on offer from Slovenian firm Smartdome, who are working on a line of good-looking high-end residential domes. Starting at $20K (presumably the base cost for a single unit), you can build them out as needed. Adjustable steel legs and general assembly are all allegedly foolproof, so disassembly and moving is an option. There are also plans for domes suitable for other terrains and climates, including Treedomes, Snowdomes, Skydomes ... you get the idea.

Dome (5 images)

The cons:

  • Cramped
  • Not great storage options
  • The Panopticon effect

Alas, they seem to your correspondent (an expat from a PNW hippie stronghold, admittedly) the literal symbol of young, earnest homesteaders from an earlier time. There is something inherently bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about them. What you don’t think about at the time you’re moving in is that if you stay there forever — which, despite your intentions, could happen — you’ll age like a plant in a too-small pot. Cramped. Cluttered. Deprived!

Purely anecdotal evidence: I knew a couple in their 60s who in their youth had started a commune, three little residences flanked by gardens full of produce. Utopia, right? Eh ...

Present day, the aging pair still live in the back shed, the smallest quarters, which resemble the inside of a fisherman’s boat (their bed is in a loft). They are always grumpy because of poor, crowded sleep and the tenants of the other houses not tending the gardens just to their liking. The point being: when they were young, they chained themselves to a lifetime of work predicated on a vision of everyone doing their part, when in reality, everyone just wanted to re-heat their leftovers and watch television. Now, I’m not gonna insist that all that was a direct result of their decision to move into an unusually confined space and then rely on a vision of community their neighbors didn’t share … but it certainly contributed.

Although I do have to admit that those pros are looking more appealing than they ever have — probably because it’s rent day and I live in New York City.

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