Yesterday I discussed the external structure of The Biosphere but today, I want to take you deep inside the structure. As you may remember I started by creating a utility tower – a hexagonal concrete structure with a massive foundation. As noted, the lower level was a giant cistern providing both water storage and treatment which feeds a series of surface pools in the plaza area for interest, cooling and humidification. The upper levels of the utility tower feature mechanical rooms, an electrical room, and is topped by the ventilation control room- essentially pair of “rooftop” commercial HVAC units in a large, louvered room which help control the atmosphere in the huge open space. The tower also serves as the structural core of the biosphere, its six corners supporting huge open trusses which span across the open communal space to the two-story living units. The center of the dome is just that – a dome of insulated glass panels, each a triangle and each tying in to the triangles around it. They arch gently as they soar three stories above the communal open space and provide weather protection as well as a control surface for solar gain. In desert communities, a low-e filmed glass will keep excess sun out while in arctic communities, clear solar glass can be used to allow as much solar energy into the biosphere as is desired.
Some pods on the inner, lower level are service pods – community stores, infirmary, meeting rooms, etc. Walkways running around the inner ring of the living units provide access to the units, act as deck space and provide maintenance access to the upper level where additional equipment is located. But down below is the fun stuff – stepping through the ring of habitation pods from the outside, passing under the second floor units and popping out into a park-like setting with soaring glass lid is a flying experience even the Wright brothers would have been envious of! I have done it digitally, and it is pretty cool.
The park-like setting is rich in plants and trees chosen for their durability, low-water use, ability to cool through transpiration (some trees do this better than others) and possibly even their ability to bear fruit. In the small villages in Alaska, fresh fruits and vegetables are a rare commodity so this would be a major component in selecting greenery. Walking paths of recycled shipping and construction materials appear to meander through the park, but are carefully laid out to minimize landscape damage from occupants short-cutting from one spot to another. A central plaza surrounded by trees feeds off of the cascading pools of collected water, with tables and hardscape to support community gathering. A communal garden space is blocked out, with room to grow, and a kids’ play area aims to keep kids from trying to climb out onto the roof trusses overhead.
There is a lot of potential for a modular community such as this and there are certainly ideas out there which can improve upon what we have developed here, so we look forward to hearing from you!