Texans ready to build dome homes for Haiti quake victims

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by MONIKA DIAZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 12:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 27 at 5:10 PM

ITALY, Texas — A North Texas businessman is gearing up for one of the biggest projects of his life: Building new homes for Haitian families left homeless by the earthquake.

But these homes are far from cookie-cutter designs.

"It's weird, but it's better, stronger, faster, simpler to build, and I am proud of it," said David South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute in Italy, Texas.

The domes are a familiar sight in the small Ellis County town. Drivers passing through on Interstate 35E can't miss the field near the highway dotted with domes — including a giant concrete caterpillar.

South, Haitian rap artist Won G and the non-profit organization One Dome at a Time had originally launched the dome project in October 2009, months before the earthquake. But, the proposal is now on the fast track with a bigger vision in mind.

The team wants to build a 500-unit village that includes a school, a medical clinic and a community hall.

Each family dome is 18 feet in diameter, about 300 square feet.

"You can have your private shower, your private toilet and your kitchen sink and the rest will be left open," South explained.

According to South, the domes are strong enough to take on hurricanes and earthquakes.

"Earthquakes mean absolutely nothing to it," he said. "It's like a Tupperware bowl. You can shake it around, but it won't fall apart."

Building dome communities for earthquake survivors isn't anything new for South and One Dome at a Time. Workers erected a 100-unit village in Indonesia after a massive quake in May, 2006. The project put 370 Indonesians to work learning how to to build the domes.

In Haiti, South hopes to do the same — and much more.

"They will learn a skill," said South. "They will learn a technology that they can use forever. It will give them all hope for a better place and a way of life."

One Dome at a Time has partnered with several charities and has created an emergency fund for the dome project.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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