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'Dome' estic bliss

Futuristic, "Zen-like" domes used around the world are — being built right here in Ashland.

Pacific Domes has been building these unusual geodesic — domes since 1980.

The domes are used for a number of purposes. Some of their — uses have included housing a car show in Hong Kong, hosting a celebrity — party for movie star Leonardo DiCaprio and becoming a Hobbit hole for — a company hawking a "Lord of the Rings" video game. Generally, they have — more everyday uses such as a yoga studio, a guest house, or a long-term — place to live.

According to Mark Hanson, operations supervisor for Pacific — Domes "They're quite versatile and are perfect for those looking for a — unique space. If you ever get into one, it's like, 'Wow, it's so neat.'"

The idea of a geodesic dome design came from the late — R. Buckminster Fuller, an inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, — poet and cosmologist.

Fuller's lifelong goal was the development of "Comprehensive — Anticipatory Design Science." This science was an attempt to anticipate — and solve the major problems of humanity by providing "more and more life — support for everybody, with less and less resources," according to Pacific — Dome owner and founder Asha Deliverance.

The company, which has a staff of 15, makes domes ranging — from 16 to 60 feet tall in their space on East Hersey Street.

The domes are covered with water and mildew resistant, — flame retardant fabrics such as cotton, vinyl and polyester. The frames — of the domes are galvanized steel tubing bolted together. Windows can — also be added to a dome to give owners a clear view of their natural surroundings.

Hanson said they receive calls and orders from around — the country and world on a number of projects.

They are in the planning stages of designing a 30-foot — dome for a company that plans to sink it off the coast of Egypt in an — attempt to make an artificial coral reef. They are also making domes for — an ecological tourism organization based in the Swiss Alps.

"It's really neat to be a part of so many cool projects," — Hanson said.

Deliverance said the domes perfectly fit Fuller's motto — to "do more with less," and added, "I love to see beauty and I love the — designs we do."

The domes can be put up quickly, taking from an hour to — several days depending on size. They can also be moved easily, Deliverance — said. A 30 foot dome can fit in a Ford Aerostar minivan, with only the — rear seat removed, she said.

The domes can also be lived in long-term. Hanson, along — with his wife and young daughter, lived in a 24-foot dome for two years — in Talent.

"It was wonderful," he said. "It was so open that you — become aware of the natural surroundings around you. You don't have a — thick, insular wall. You're connected to nature. You can hear the birds — and the deer pattering around outside."

The domes can also withstand heavy snow, rain and winds.

Once, during a storm, a large oak tree fell on Hanson's — dome, snapping the tree in half.

The dome received minor damage - a little more than $100 — - and was repaired in less than a day.

"It's quite durable," he said.

Mary Ann Jones of Ashland has had a 16-foot dome on her — property on the outskirts of town for more than a year. She uses the dome — in a number of ways, such as guest housing and a place to do meditation — and yoga.

"It's just been good for a variety of things," she said. — "I like the fact that you're in a circular space. It gives you a different — feeling than being in a rectangular room. I think you just get a feeling — of being cozy, almost like being embraced by the space. ... I like that — it's very practical and you don't have wasted space in the corners. It's — very inviting."

Deliverance plans to retire next year and to set up subsidies — of her dome business all around the world.

"I believe that the domes are a futuristic home that give — people the ability to move into nature in a really simple way," she said. — "It's important to spread the word."