UC Davis dome dorms: free thinking & inclusion against gloom

Inspired by Buckminster Fuller, in 1972 a group of UC Davis students set out to build their own affordable tiny homes. With the help of a local foam roofing company (Central Coating Company) they built 14 polyurethane-insulated fiberglass domes on four acres of campus land.

With communal gardens, free range chickens and a system of direct democracy, “Baggins End” (a Tolkien-inspired moniker) was launched as an experiment in eco-friendly, grow-your-own living.

Meant to last 10 years, the domes weathered nearly 4 decades of students before risking closure due to the need for costly repairs. After a “Save the Domes” campaign, hundreds of volunteers and the local Solar Community Housing Association brought the structures back to life, patching foam and making two of the vaulted shelters wheelchair accessible.

We talked to several “Domies” about their quirky dorm rooms (yes, there’s electricity, plumbing and even a kitchen); the upgrade (some are heated/cooled via geothermal heat exchange); and life under a bubble.

Baggins End:

Original story:

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  1. Amy Greensie
    January 16, 2017

    Paused the video to comment and put in my two cents about the comments I've read so far!

    These domes and the environment surrounding dome life at this campus appear nothing short of amazing to me, everyone living in the domes appears to interact freely and happily, they seem to embrace nature and their neighbours much more than students in generic dorm structures not only choose to but physically CAN because of their dwellings! Veggie gardens, chickens, who knows what else they've got out there. This living environment is encouraging the appreciation of nature and being self sufficient in that the kids cook their own food and do their own washing – or at least that they have the opportunity to! Who cares about the dude in his undies? Let him live. Is it really so horrific that a human (note: all human beings came into this world naked) is comfortable to exist IN comfort, in this case his briefs, everyone stop being such prudes for goodness sake it's the human body.

    Who cares about the dorms being little messy? At the very least, this is a real representation of how these people live not a fake display because they know a camera is coming round. What's more, the kids seem content and are able to exist without trouble, so for goodness sake why are YOU negative commenters letting it ruin your day.

    Kirsten provides a glimpse into a variety of different people's homes, in their varying backgrounds, contexts, and subsequent customs. People who truely enjoy architecture and expression of self through architecture and the holistic use and enjoyment of spaces will take this video for what it is worth, and disregard the signs of life throughout the video that are oh so horrifying.

  2. Apple's bunches
    January 26, 2017

    messy as hell

  3. W.C. J
    January 28, 2017

    How is heating and air done?

  4. Dirtpatcheaven
    January 31, 2017

    I love this! Amazing!

  5. HadesXY
    February 9, 2017

    very hippy but i like it. maybe good a idea for a recreation year 😀
    omg baggings end xD i want that one

  6. The Duke of California
    February 10, 2017

    All should be implemented all over California.

  7. Basil Gan
    February 19, 2017

    Wow.. Never thought there are people living the life I want! Close to nature and small comfortable spaces!

  8. Taboo Bunny
    February 23, 2017

    one look at that toilet, and i was like "mmm..oh hell no honey'

  9. Michele Lavender
    March 7, 2017

    great places to live,they were happy and thats the main thing

  10. Moises Mariscal
    March 14, 2017

    dirty place

  11. jukes243
    March 16, 2017

    LOL …. the structure was hidden by the mess! The student was pleasant. :o)

  12. Daenerys
    March 19, 2017

    These comments are so conservative. Don't be so narrow minded.

  13. K M
    March 30, 2017

    The Domes are awesome! Go Ags!

  14. Dena Redford
    May 3, 2017

    Very nice private dwellings.

  15. Quency Hadisubroto
    May 24, 2017

    1972 was when my parents were born

  16. daniel ferreira de araujo
    May 30, 2017

    beleza beleza

  17. Artemisia Gentileschi
    June 2, 2017

    The Domes at UC Davis are actually a cooperative community. Everyone must be approved by the existing committee because it is a community of like-mindedness, about sustainability and low carbon footprint. Hippie style cool, really cool nice kind folks. They used to have a bike repair shop free to anyone, where you could borrow their tools to work on your bike right there and use their free bike spare parts, that people donate, to fix your own bike..and they're always generous to help you do it if they're not in class or studying. It's called the "Bike Church."

  18. Renza Chendra Aditya
    June 11, 2017

    did you know, that domes was similar like the world dome project in yogyakarta indonesia. the village name is KAMPUNG NEW NGLEPEN.

  19. burly636
    June 21, 2017

    Changes the chemistry in your brain, I don't think so. No external source can change that. They are kind of dumpy looking. Need inside maintenance and a maid. Bet they last a long time. No Gloom, ok.

  20. TheDtfamu89
    June 24, 2017

    I can't really see the place because there's so much stuff every where. I had a hard time seeing things hanging everywhere. I definitely think I'm a linear girl. This would piss me off… and the dude walking around in his underwear? The aesthetics of the place needed to be improved… there's a way to do this and make it more appealing. I think that they are fine with this because they are in school and they know that this is all temporary for them.

  21. alex hernandez
    June 29, 2017

    what a mess,my god trailar park trash!

  22. Cellery Blackrock
    July 5, 2017

    I am one of the original Pioneers, who started Dome Utopia as an experimental living space for UCDavis students. We pushed the school administration for permission, wrote the proposal soliciting $100,000+ from the Regents (all paid back!!), and hired a wonderful contractor and crew.
    We were self-taught labor, who poured fourteen concrete pads, constructed core walls (kitchen on one side, bathroom on the other), and rolled fiberglass domes inside a rotating mold. Each pair of students designed where the door and windows went for "their" domes, which were popped loose and craned into place. An insulating foam and fire-resistant paint were put on the shell inside the domes, plus tiny ventilation fans – not the spinning vents. A small Hitachi refrigerator and erratic smoke alarms were provided. We planned and built our own kitchen drawers, cabinets, bathroom enclosures, rooms, and ladders to the lofts.
    My wife and I were the only married couple, slept in the spacious upstairs loft, and built a downstairs clothes closet. Years later, a "successor" questioned why we built "such a small bedroom"! Personal computers, etc. hadn't been invented, so later residents complained about too-few electrical outlets.
    Our tiny 2' tall saplings are now a fully-grown forest that has needed thinning … sort of like us!!

  23. chris avalos
    July 31, 2017

    i can smell the feet sweat and pit sweat through my computer screen

  24. HristosIisusEdomnul
    August 17, 2017

    beautiful baby! 🙂

  25. PurpleUnicornCat
    September 14, 2017

    I like it but I would keep mine cleaner

  26. Ahava
    September 21, 2017

    This just doesnt seem hygenic and i keep wondering about insulation. Where are the Windows? Where is the light? How depressing.I feel these kids if they arent brainwashed before they attend that school they end up brainwashed.

  27. Drew Cummins
    October 23, 2017

    I was surprised at the size once inside

  28. Karma Chameleon
    December 6, 2017

    It would be amazing to be able to talk to the people who constructed these.

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