Is a Binishell Revival on the Way?

In the 1960’s, architect Dr. Dante Bini created the Binishell, a papier-mache type of structure using concrete over an inflatable membrane to create a dome. Dr. Bini wanted to create an affordable and economically friendly to construct structures. His Binishells had enough success to build over 1,000 domes, but because of safety concerns the practice was mostly deserted.

The structural stability of the Binishell domes was in question. There were 1,600 Binishell domes built between 1964 and 1980 and of the 1,600 domes two of them were demolished for structural reasons. One of the domes was at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, it was used for graduation commemorations, conferences, and other events. It was thirty six feet high and was made with 300 tons of concrete and steel in 1979. A risk assessment was done in 2009 and showed issues with the structural integrity of the building. This lead to the demolition of the structure which only took about 15 minutes.

After the demolition, it was reported that there was reactive clay in the soil that lead to the footing of the structure to twist, which then caused the Binishell to crack. The external thermal layer has also been reported to fail more recently with the Binishells. With the knowledge and data collected from the structural concerns the possibility of Binishells coming back new and improved is a great possibility.

The technology has been completely re-engineered to make them safer, easier to build, more eco-friendly, and more affordable. The concrete mix, anchoring system, reinforcement bar, materials and design for the membrane, it all has been re-done. The new enhancements bring the Binishells up to code with international building codes and are stronger and able to resist severe weather.

The domes have a lower center of gravity, have continuous connections to the foundation, and are solid and consistent. These improvements make the domes much stronger and able to resist against strong winds and earthquakes. High winds are also minimized due to the natural aerodynamics from how the domes are built during the construction process. They can also resist flooding and fires due to being constructed out of concrete.

Three new models of Binishells have been developed. One is for educational buildings and middle income houses. One is for housing for disaster relief and low-cost options. The last is a more adjustable option for resorts and private homes. It is believed that Binishell domes only use half of the materials that a similar traditional structure uses, costs half the price, and uses half the energy, as well as being built three times as fast as similar structures.