Ransom Ranch Dome
By Marcia Gibbons
from marciagibbons.wordpress.com

After studying and admiring Nader Khalili's alternative building work since 1985, I finally apprenticed with him at Cal-Earth in November 2007. The ingenious building methods developed at Cal-Earth are a blend of ancient and modern technologies for building sustainably. Just east of Bisbee, Arizona.

Soaking prior to digging foundation for first dome. Soil is rock-hard due to lack of rain. After the monsoons come, no problem!

Ed and Cisco starting bag work on dome!

Test bags with various percentages of portland cement, lime, and just plain subsoil. Also, 2 papercrete test cylinders.

Above ground!

Gettin it done w. B.J, Billy, Oscar, Ed, Squeak, & Bill S.

Growing walls


Marcia building temporary forms for windows and door

Don't sit on the barbed wire, Darren

B.J. doing demolition of three courses to correct the arc. (My bad.) Using the pieces to create a planter/buttress/bench .

Back to building

Marcia and Billy "nailing " down barbed wire between each course.

Marcia tamping

Propped-up log being used as form for entry into apse

Darren and Billy tamping over door form

climbing the walls...Form for door in place

Garrett removing a window form. Enoc relaxing on wall.

south facing windowSouth -facing window. Note strip anchors and chases for adding small countertop/sink.

Apse with various forms for windows

Closing the apse!

Ryan's view of the apse.

Test samples for exterior plaster


View from north showing skylight, porthole windows, purple cactus in planter/berm, and final color coat.


Final sienna color coat!


Garrett, Patrick and Darren have finished two-tone interior plaster. Beautiful!


Flyover at Ransom Ranch: a view seldom seen of the earthbag dome


Magic! Solar Panel added off-the-grid power to the dome.


Lights!!! under a full moon!


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