an alternative to wage slavery
Domicile One
May 1977

from a September 1967 concept:
[link: early domicile work ]



This posting was written in 1999 and edited, from time-to-time as noted at the bottom - it remains, however, essentially as first written. In April, 2010, I added a few lines and edits to bring several time-focused references into harmony as well as posted some comments and drawings of an updated version of the Domicile concept which is now in Design Development.

As always with this web site follow the many links provided to get the full intention of this project. Let your mouse do the walking.



Domicile One is 75 feet in diameter and can house four to five families. It is designed to sit on two typical urban house lots so the density increase is better than two times. With the combination of outside Permaculture [link:] and inside Greenhouse, the food needed by the Domicile inhabitants can be grown on site.


The Dome and the gravel bed below frost line and the “double shell construction of the superstructure provides an“environment valve” that keeps the interior temperature between 57 and 75 degrees prior to active treatment. “Interior” construction is therefore concerned with utility, arrangement, beauty, sight-lines, sound abatement and minor air cooling and heating - not with raw weather. This allows a flexible interior environment without the worry of water proofing and major temperature swings - an economy in construction, maintenance and energy costs. In addition, the way the dome shape meets the ground is made “restful” [link: dome dwellings] by the earth berms and landscaping - both of which are energy-food providers, as well as providing security and privacy.


In this environment, recreation facilities, libraries, expensive office equipment, large living spaces, greenhouses, expensive media systems and content, cooking, tooling, cars and so forth, are provided in the “commons.” Individuals and families will have their own space and facilities providing whatever mix of personal tooling and commons redundancy desired by each. Individual lifestyle choices can replicate virtually all or practically none of these “common” facilities - this is a personal use and economic decision.


Rules of engagement [link: swarm incorporated] will determine the use of commonwealth items, as well as, other interactions among those living and working within the environment. Domiciles can be created around many different philosophies-in-practice and affinity groupings.


Most of the common areas will be in the lower part of the Dome. In the illustration above, the cross section is cut through the swimming pool and the greenhouse structure which is shown on the right (south) side of the structure - both of these will take up only a small portion of the lower area which will also have Living Room, recreational, dining and other similar facilities. On the various platforms inside the Dome, different “houses“ are constructed according to the requirements of their owners. Almost any combination of group or personal space - and tooling - can be provided. These dwelling units can be large or small, simple or elaborate as fits each occupant. They can be modified over time employing common materials and prefabricated components.


The 1967 concept sketches (reproduced in May 1973 - click on drawing above) show another version of the interior and one example of how Domicile can sit on a typical urban site. These sketches also indicate and Entry building and Office where “reception” and the Domicile’s business can take place without unnecessary invasion of privacy. Access to the Dome proper from the Entry building is through a partially underground tube. This leaves the sight free for other uses and proves both added security and protection from the weather. A 2010 version is illustrated at the bottom of this piece.


A great deal of the site is left free for recreation, food growing and privacy. Domiciles can be clustered (with connecting tubes) allowing even more land freed for a variety of uses. The land use aspect of this schema is efficient and ecologically sensitive. Domiciles can be adapted to serve a variety of co-housing programs. See: Ken Norwood (Rebuilding Community in America) of the Shared Living Resource Center in Berkeley, California (800 475 7572).


This design concept is driven by three values often missing in today’s approach to housing: community, economy [link: upside down economics - aspects] and stability of “family.” Families do not have to be biological based (only). They will, in the future, often be based on many other affinity aspects: religion, work, philosophies, beliefs, life situations.


Domiciles were conceived from the beginning to be both living and work environments. They were designed on the premise of the KnowledgeWorker and knowledge economy, or in today’s terms, Free Agent economy. This means the environment will not be “abandoned” half the day and will be managed and employed as a 24/7/365 enterprise. Preliminary calculations indicate a several times increase in the quality of living at about a 50% decrease in monthly overhead for a family. This radically alters the cost of living to an individual and family and significantly increases their life options and how they think about and use their time.


The actual social systems employed to govern the environments can be highly varied from a “hotel” model to, condominium to business to commune with many variants in between.


It is is the realm of economic freedom that the Domicile concept shows it’s strongest face. Do this thought experiment. Fly over the city and “look” into the offices and houses. How much redundancy of effort, tools and resources do you see? How much of this wealth is latent, rarely used? It all took, recourses, time and energy to produce. It takes energy to keep. This translates into hours for each of the owners. Frozen hours of their life - not effectively employed. The amount of this largely unnecessary redundancy is staggering - the cost, a significant portion of a household’s revenue. This leads to a society of wage-slaves. In economic downturns, people realize the traps that they have put themselves into by uncritical acceptance of a consumer society and it’s present attendant design strategies. Yet, few realize that their situation is systemic - the in-the-moment economy is blamed rather than the design strategies of their architecture and their attendant living habits.


Why this over building and under utilization? The answer is simple. So that each resource will be available “on demand” to an individual owner/user. USE is the principle that must be addressed - not unnecessary control or ownership. More than adequate use can be provided by proper analysis and rules-of-engagement supported by “smart” scheduling systems. The most constrained resource for the majority of humans is time. Time for learning, play, recreation and funding new ventures - be they personal, business or nonprofit. There are three aspects to procuring a basic lifestyle: income and costs are two of them. Social costs and opportunity loss is the other. Domicile addresses the cost side of this equation. It challenges prevailing ideas concerning what it costs to live in a stable community and accomplish a healthy, beautiful well-tooled way of living and working.


Many, in our society, buy lower quality products than they require and desire because they cannot “afford” quality - every unnecessary purchase makes this condition worse. The low quality purchase generates a downward positive feedback loop: low quality is, in the end, bad economics. Under utilization while a tools sits on the shelf bleeding value and relevance is bad economics.


Because of schedule constraints and the need to work more hours to afford more poorly made under used “goods,” most in our society spend money for goods and services that used to be self-provided. This can translate in to more day-to-day time freedom but too often it means a reduction of options and an increase in job dependency. The costs associated with most “packaged” goods is mostly the packaging itself and the advertising necessary to sell it. Many of these home products can be safely and easily provided in a simple home lab for a fraction of the cost and a few hours effort a month. On the scale of a Domicile this makes common sense. These can be “jobs” for those working at home or are taking a work sabbatical. The entire consumer/work cycle can be positively effected and turned back into a self-aware craft process.


Families, farms and communities used to provide many of the basic staples of life - now, almost everything is a commodity supplied by ever larger and complex corporations delivering through an ever more complex and economically and ecologically expensive and often fragile supply chain. For some products, such as computers and cars, this makes sense. For fresh vegetables it does not. Nor does it for toothpaste that have but a few cents of materials purchased at bulk. Even technology and service costs can be reduced because the Domicile community can buy as a unit increasing it’s purchasing power.


Domicile is an urban homestead for families - it can radically expand their economic options and freedom. It can facilitate a far greater set of choices than the existing default housing models. In the 60s and 70s, when I first conceived and designed Domicile, alternative energy and water options were in their early R&D and experimental stages. Today, April 2010, an urban Domicile can affordably supply a great deal - if not all - of the basic food, energy and water needs of it’s inhabitants. Doing so allows everyone to reduce their ecological footprint, improve their economy and better protect their heath than is possible in almost any suburban or urban setting available today. Think about this.

Domicile, and other similar strategies is not an attack on a global economy of refined goods. It allows an appropriate use of this industrial-economic tool.

The argument for Domicile also goes beyond these fundamental economic and health considerations. As a building strategy, the Domicile offers significant architectural opportunities that few single family building schemes can muster. Domiciles are potentially high variety environments. Their architectural quality can be at the highest level while being economically and ecologically affordable to a vast number of people who can not afford quality habitation - let along the junk now on the market - today.


The Affordable Housing Project [link: boulder affordable housing project] for the City of Boulder, designed in 1980, further developed many of the 1960s, 70s Domicile concepts. The dome configuration was not used because the site was close to the Flatirons and the view of these mountains could not be blocked. Instead, a low profile earth-sheltered “greenhouse” was proposed. In this case, the entire interior dwelling components: walls, floors, roofs and mechanical systems were made adjustable and moveable by those living in the environment. A significant extension of the idea of adaptability, very possible today and a concept not being approached by any project being built or proposed at this time.

The Xanadu Project [link: xanadu project] which I conceived in the 1950s and drew up in 2000 scales the Domicile idea to a working and living environment for a thousand to two thousand people depending on the size chosen. There are many scales in between Domicile and Xanadu that will work if matched to specific site and socioeconomic circumstances. The principles remain the same.
It is incomprehensible to me that projects like Domicile are not now common. This concept is nearly 45 years old. The problem of affordable housing is still with us. The ecological issues are still with us. And, in recent years, fear of losing work is returning to the workplace [link: wage slavery]. The promise of the relentless engine of the consumer society has proven to be devoid of economic sense as it always has been of human sensibility. The many personal and social consequences of these patterns can be easily seen. In the mid 80s over 80 percent of the workforce in the US had an adequate pension - today it is less than 20 percent. True there are economic, employment policy and political aspects to this circumstance. I point out that there are also life strategy and architectural design aspects and these are in the hands of individuals not vast institution in their death throes. A domicile with a mix of people from different economic levels, ages, and possessing different skill sets, can provide a better life style and pay it’s capital off in a few years. This habitat can be a pension for the retirement years. Yet, today, economics, architecture and social organizations are still treated as separate issues. And, it remains, for all practical purposes, impossible to get investment for this kind of project. I wonder why. Who benefits? What is the worst case that could happen? A marginal return? Or, the same “economics” yet a far better life style? As long as our society continues to think of architecture, ecology, economics, life-style options and social policy as separate, we will continue along the insane path of the present. As long as “making” money is seen as governed by a different standard than what makes a good “social” investment, projects like Domicile will remain on the drawing boards. Yet, the 05 WEF meeting at Davos, projected that the world economy will grow by 80% over the following 15 years (now 10 and still feasible despite recent set backs). Are we to believe that the present design strategies of food supply, energy, transportation, employment and housing are to prevail? Has anyone thought deeply about the consequences of this projection? Are the barriers to innovations such as Domicile understood? Who benefits from this existing social-economic entrenchment? Who pays? Who loses? Maybe, a planet covered with asphalt really will be nice. Maybe, I am missing something here. Maybe... [link: master plan for planet earth]


The recently completed UniCredit NavCenter, while a work environment, best indicates the architectural quality that a Domicile can provide. It is also the closest built project that gives a taste of what the Xanadu project [link: xanadu] will be like. The scale and use is different yet the quality is the same.
Click on the picture above and look at the UniCredit NavCenter Tour while keeping the Domicile sketches in mind. This takes some translation, however, the interior landscaping the various zones, the “rooms within rooms” created by the PODs, the multiple heights of platforms all provide a small illustration of what a Domicile can be like. The structure will be more domestic in feel and there will be many more layers of privacy - let you imagination fill in the gaps.


The recently completed UVA mediaPOD illustrates , on a small scale, some of the earchitectural qualities of the geodesic geometry and that of a room-within-a-room.
Click on the picture above to see the mediaPOD prototype and consider how structures of this kind can be employed in a Domicile. Geodesic “rooms” the size of mediaPOD - to about twice as big- can be used to make work and living accommodations within a Domicile.


In April, I started Design Development for a Domicile Prototype. The two sketches, below, are quick studies to explore dimensions and volumes to discover the size requirements for a fully functioning Domicile environment for 5 families and the minimum amount of land necessary for functional self sufficiency.
Domicile - besides a viable design strategy itself for addressing critical issues of habitat in today’s social, economic, ecological circumstance - is an early step in a progression of projects aimed at practicing a method to facilitate the emergence of viable habitats on multiple levels: communities, cities, regions, Planet Earth as a system, and near space. It is a solution on it’s own level of recursion and a conscious experiment in support of larger future projects:
Bootstrap into Space
Crystal Cave
Mater Plan for Planet earth
Mega Cities
Planetary Architecture
Rebirth at Ground Zero
Katrina - An Unnatural Disaster
Future Views Exercises
The present default practice of architecture does not address the meta challenges of building on Planet Earth in the 21st Century. We are building out a “solution” which is fragmented, not sustainable, does not address the conditions of our time and negatively adds to the worst of these conditions. Every project has to address local circumstance and economies as well as future global systemic issues and ecologies. Time no longer affords the “luxury” of practicing architecture with our heads buried in the local sand.
In addition, these studies explore possible construction alternatives and grammar sets for a Domicile build with today’s technologies and methods. The original sketches assumed a craft level building method possible in the 60s and 70s. These new sketches assume a mostly prefabricated, manufactured approach. In their primitive form of development , they convey a somewhat mechanical and modernistic look - in reality, the pictures above, of Unicredit and the mediaPOD, provide a more accurate representation of Domicile’s potential finish and persona.
A final note. Planet Earth may be facing in our near future a period of turbulence: weather change, pole shifts, earthquakes, sun flares, hurricanes, flooding and sea change levels, and so on. In addition, human activities themselves are causing world wide, unpredictable consequences. The physical record and human history clearly shows these cycle have come before. These can be catastrophic times or a time to co-design with Gaia a more sustainable planet. Domiciles (alone with EcoSphere, Xanadu, Crystal Cave) , in the scope of my work since the late 60s, represent a class of designs intended to metabolize with the natural environment and/or be self contained to a high degree. The intent is to engage with the landscape while being able to “gate” unwanted impacts from one to the other. These techniques may also be useful in the development of human habitats on other planets. The outer skin of Domicile is an “environment Valve” - an interface mechanism - designed to protect both interior and exterior environments without isolating either from each other.
The present political, economic and ecological circumstance argues strongly for the Domicile approach. Affinity groups can pool resources, cut capital costs and living expenses dramatically while greatly increasing their standard of living and, at the same time, significantly reducing their negative impact on both society and planet.
As, Design Development proceeds, I will set up a web page to document this process. A design for prototype, of the structure, energy-food-water systems as well as the social processes and legal agreements should be available sometime in early 2011.
It is time to do this.
Return To Index
GoTo: Bay Area Studio
GoTo: Taylor Environments Tour
GoTo: Money - The Tool That Became a God
GoTo: The Story of the Monkey’s Paw
GoTo: UniCredit navCenter Tour
GoTo : workPODs - Images
GoTo: UpideDown Economics - 12 Aspects
GoTo: Dome Dwellings and Workplaces
GoTo: EcoSphere Bungalow
GoTo: workPODS - a History
GoTo: Xanadu Project
GoTo: UVA mediaPOD
GoTo: Return of the Usonian
GoTo: Practice - ideas into reality
GoTo: postUsonain Prototypes
GoTo: POD Greenehouse Home Workspace
GoTo: Nature of Experience
GoTo: MG Taylor Tool Kit
GoTo: Boulder Affordable Housing Project
GoTo: Renascence Reports
GoTo: Wage Slavery
GoTo: There’s No Place Like Home
GoTo: Authentic Architecture
GoTo: A Future by Design - Not Default
Matt Taylor
Palo Alto
February 21, 1999


SolutionBox voice of this document:


click on graphic for explanation of SolutionBox

posted: February 21, 1999

revised: April 11, 2010
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(note: this document is about 95% finished)

Matt Taylor 615 720 7390

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1977, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010

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