A structure made for music
The Dome is a retreat center and a place for concerts located in Alcalali, Spain. It was especially build for soundhealing therapies, so there are great acoustics and an amazing peaceful energy inside.
Design and construction
In January of 1997 we began construction of The Dome, based on a design by British builder Dave Amphlett. Dave had envisioned building Roundhouses as an economical and environmentally friendly home. He had already constructed two Domes for a private individual using river canes for the curved uprights (pillars) lashed to a metal re-bar structure for strength. The floors were adobe, with white cement on the outside and Yeso (Spanish plaster or “gesso”) on the interior, over wire mesh. The 2 roundhouses were 4.25m and 7m respectively. They had vertical walls and an overlapping roof which gave them the appearance of giant mushrooms. The acoustics in the centre were, however, impressive! Michele and I stood in the centre and sang overtones and were amazed at the “surround sound” effect.
We immediately started designing our own Dome. We realised that a smooth exterior, without the overhanging roof would much improve the appearance, we decided on a smooth interior, which would greatly amplify sound and be a vast improvement over a geodesic dome, where the triangles impede the echo effect. We also decided on a much greater diameter to also improve the resonance while creating a large workshop space. Finally, we agreed on a 10,5m diameter, as this was the maximum size our grounds would allow. The height became 5,25m, exactly half the diameter (or equal to the radius), creating the proportion of 1:2 known as the Octave in musical intervals. The total area is just under 90m². Additionally, due to building restrictions, the Dome was built in such a way as to be theoretically lifted off the ground and moved. Instead of foundations it rests on a steel reinforced concrete ring, into which all the curved steel uprights are welded. This ring sits on a second steel reinforced concrete ring which is supported by a circular trench filled with compacted stone. 32 metal loops on the interior of the upper ring provide hooking points for a crane and cables. Fortunately, we were never called upon to demonstrate the portable nature of The Dome!
All the people that worked on the Dome learned to sing overtones and the entire construction process was accompanied by joyous overtone singing!
The Dome was finished with a suspended, sprung wooden floor, giving the final touch to the spectacular acoustics. The floor acts as a membrane or transducer, thus amplifying the sounds of the voice and other instruments. In August 1997, 8 months later, the Dome was completed.
The Dome in 1998
The hemispheric structure possesses some inherent modal characteristics. The Dome was built in such a way as to greatly amplify sound.
Location and accommodation
The Dome is surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Costa Blanca. Nearby, you can find a charming finca with pool, hammocks and bean bags in between almonds trees, nature and mountains all around.
The Dome Center can accommodate up to 20 people maximum. – In the Main House: 3 bedrooms, dining room, kitchen and lounge area.
– In the grounds there are two wooden cabins sleeping up to 4 each. – A cottage with two connected rooms for 2 ( 4 total) and a shower/toilet. All bathrooms are shared and the bedrooms sleep 2, 3 or 4 people according to course requirements – The Center and its gardens and pool area offer plenty of space to read a book or relax in private if you wish.