Dome Life

 

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“If you think outside the box, why live in one?” Says Diane Enright, the listing agent for this Chic Shack.

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When Buckminster Fuller invented the Geodesic Dome in the late 1940s, he did so, in order to demonstrate some of his concepts about housing, and what he termed “energetic-synergetic geometry” which he had begun to develop during WWII.

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Fuller was on an essentially, humanitarian  mission  to improve the housing of humanity. The Dome represents a brilliant demonstration of his synergetics principles which could indeed serve to solve some of the pressing housing problems of today (a housing crisis which Fuller predicted back in 1927).

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Geodesic domes (and the homes based on those designs) are extremely efficient and inexpensive. This alone, in today’s economic and environmental atmosphere makes them worthy of consideration, along with other sustainable building techniques.

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As sustainable living becomes more of an imperative as overpopulation escalates, domes offer some seriously smart ways to house humans. Along with many other attributes, they also provide a way to grow vegetation indoors.

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The spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling to occur naturally.

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More specifically, the dome is energy-efficient for many reasons: Its decreased surface area requires less building materials, exposure to cold in the winter and heat in the summer is decreased because, being spherical, there is the least surface area per unity of volume per structure.

IMG_0688The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less (energy usage) than normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co.

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There have always been Domes here in Taos but this is not your average Bucky Fuller Hippie Dome. This Dome is something else entirely, and it most certainly qualifies as a very Chick Shack.

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Diane Enright, who is the undisputed Queen of the Taos Realty Scene (together with her Associate Brandon Rose), are the listing agents for this great property, owned and built by one of the coolest couples in town, Brad Hockmeyer and Janet Gauthier.

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Diane has a reputation for knowing the Market here better than most. The fact that she’s been here doing this, longer than most, is certainly in her favour. Originally from Texas, Diane is as chic as the shacks she lists.

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Brad Hockmeyer and Janet Gauthier envisioned this Dome merging with the landscape on the gorgeous 6 acre property Brad already owned, with the Rio running through it.

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The colour of the surrounding sagebrush was used as the cover coat, and the couple have planted scores of trees on the property, that will one day render the Dome almost indistinguishable from its surroundings.

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Brad bought the land years ago before anyone had even heard of Los Cordovas, the neighborhood they live in. Brad’s been known to do a few things early on, being ahead of the curve with an eye on what’s coming down next.

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From Dobbs Ferry, New York, Brad came to Taos in 1979 and was for a time partners with Gringo Lessons author, Bill Whaley, in a trailer-housed radio station (KVNM) on Blueberry Hill. When their deal unraveled Brad went on to found KTOAS Solar Radio in 1986. He eventually moved from the trailer to a space near the Old Blinking Light which expanded to include a performance space, making the KTAOS Solar Center one of the prime venues for live music here in Taos.

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A few years ago, Brad sold KTAOS to four of his employees. although he’s still on the air all week-long. The couple travel often and are as at home in the city as they are in the Dome.

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It stands to reason then that solar panels and passive solar window gain – there are windows throughout this Dome, facing in every direction, capturing the extraordinary views of the property and beyond – were the main consideration for the couple, when building the Dome. Solar hot water and electricity are the only energies used here, although the Dome is designed to ultimately, run completely off the grid and entirely dependent on the elements for energy.

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From the outside the Dome looks unimposing but Inside the space is an entirely different story  reflecting the couple’s rock and roll sensibilities with a nod to the 60’s and 70’s in the Modernist design and decor. Janet’s talent for design and detail really comes into play in the interiors. Growing up in Louisiana and years spent in Taos, have gifted her with an eclectic, yet extremely modern aesthetic. A quirky Mid Century chandelier hangs like a Sputnik in the center of the kitchens domed ceiling, while the dining area boasts a modern fixture dripping with baroque crystals. In the master bedroom, a classic crystal chandelier is suspended above the bed from the center of the dome.

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The Dome (actually two domes conjoined by a vaulted vestibule that also cleverly contains a small home office), is divided into an open plan living/dining and kitchen area with the master bedroom and luxurious bath in the upstairs of the second dome, housing Brad’s office and studio and a spare bedroom downstairs. Janet’s managed to make the home feel warm and cozy yet completely open to the landscape. Picture windows, strategically placed, capture the views from all around.

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The sun porch off the vestibule is a Winter in Taos dream, a solar collector par excellence, it serves to heat the surrounding areas. It’s where Janet likes to chill out after a day in the garden tending to all their plantings. Janet is one of the most sought after hair stylists in town but these days she’s mostly dreaming up new Domes. She’s standing in the entry to the conservatory – like space.”One day, you wont even see the house,” Janet says. “The landscape will completely absorb it.”

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The wall of these incredibly livable spaces, have been plastered with pure pigmented clay that changes hue depending on the light and the time of day and season.The Dome seamlessly connects the interior with sweeping views of the mountains and the gorge cutting through the bottom of the property. It’s a wonderfully comfortable place to hang out in. The architectural details the couple have applied, work like a charm to elevate the interior. By using the vaulted aspect of the domed rooms, they’ve created an incredibly efficient yet chic space.

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The Design bug clearly has Janet inspired. Having already renovated and updated their town home, she’s ready for a new project. Janet wants to build another one. This time near the beach on the Gulf Coast. “It would withstand any hurricane”, she tells me. Both are ready for a change in scenery and dream of spending winters near the sea.

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Although they know they’ll miss this magical location, they do have their other house in town and selling this one will enable them to make their dream a reality.

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I couldn’t help thinking that the Dome would make such a great hideaway for a musician. It’s at the end of a private road and just happens to have incredible acoustics. It’s the perfect Rock and Roll Shack.

EntranceThis Chic Shack is 3800 sf and is listed at $1,100,000. For more information on this truly special property, please contact Diane Enright or Brandon Rose at taoshomes.com (click on this link for more, brightly lit photographs of the Dome) and check out Brad and Janet’s blog rounderhomeandfarm for the entire Dome journey and lots more great pics too!

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Both Diane Enright and Janet Gauthier collaborated on this post with me. All photographs of Dome interior and exterior by Janet, except for the aerial shot of the property (Chris Dahl-bredine) the Domes and the driveway in early spring, by Diane. Thank you ladies!

Photograph of Brad and Janet in the City by Michael Scully

Photograph of Diane and Brandon care of Diane Enright

Aerial Photograph by Chris Dahl-bredine

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9 thoughts on “Dome Life

  1. This has got to be the most beautiful space I’ve seen in Taos. The interior is exquisite. I love the private road and the access to the Rio is an added value; an expression of the uniqueness and beauty in Taos. I loved learning about the Domes and its efficiency too.

  2. Thanks for commenting Toni. It’s a pretty spectacular space. The property is exquisite and the Dome is already being embraced by its surroundings. After the rain we’ve had, everything is growing like crazy.

  3. just a couple notes for your editor.

    “The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes…” Something ain’t right about that statement. (30% LESS savings?, or 30% less energy usage?)

    Also, aerial (as in photography) is spelled a-e-r-i-a-l. You’re welcome.

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