Dome Village

Dec 31, 1993



Community spaces are formed from serval domes linked together. Here, the formation of the domes also creates a public plaza outside.

LocationLos Angeles, California
OrganizationJusticeville, USA
End ClientHomeless individuals and families
ConceptTed Hayes, Craig Chamberlain
DesignCraig Chamberlain
Major FundingARCO Corporation
Cost per unit$10,000
Area per unit314 sq. ft./29 sq. m
Site1.3 acres/5,260 sq. m

Twenty years ago on the downtown Los Angeles site where the Dome Village now stands was a squatter camp called Justiceville—better known as “skid row.”

Today this unconventional community offers homeless individuals an alternative to the traditional shelter.

Homeless activist Ted Hayes founded Justiceville in 1985 with the ambitious goal of “ending all homelessness.” Along this journey Hayes decided to become homeless himself and moved to Justiceville, advocating tirelessly for the rights of its residents. In so doing he came to understand the dual nature of individuals—their need for privacy and independence versus their craving for social interaction. When the city of Los Angeles shut down the squatter camp later that same year, Hayes launched a media campaign to create an environment to house the homeless in which each of these human desires would be met. This led to a relationship between Hayes and Craig Chamberlain, a Vietnam veteran, a student of the late Buckminster Fuller, and the inventor of the Omni-Sphere dome. Together they developed a plan for a new kind of living environment that, with funding from the ARCO Corporation, became the Dome Village.

Individual Omni-Sphere domes. © Ed Boughton

Residsent at work in the communal library. ©Ed Boughton

Launched in 1993 the Dome Village consists of 20 Omni-Spheres, each 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter and 12 feet (3.6 m) tall, giving the occupants 314 square feet (29 sq. m) of living space. Each sphere is made up of 21 polyester fiberglass panels that fasten together with 150 Teflon bolts, making the structure watertight. In less than four hours, two people can assemble an Omni-Sphere dome using a stepladder, a screwdriver, and a wrench.

Partitioning each of the 12 residential domes allows the village to house up to 34 tenants at once. The remaining eight domes are for group use and include a kitchen, community room, offices, bathing facilities, and a laundry. Dome Village also offers a host of other programs and services designed to empower residents, such as a job-training program, a computer center, legal aid services, and the Compton Cricket Club, a cricket team made up of residents and former gang members from nearby Compton High School.


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