Archimedes Design began as a company because at the core of our identity we are festival-goers. We didn’t come up with a design and then decide to market it on the festival circuit. We designed these domes because we were already on the festival circuit and needed infrastructure that offered better solutions to create space and shelter. The business began because we wanted to offer what we had created to other people who needed better solutions. One of the solutions we found was a way to offer more comfortable personal camping.
Before I started doing the festival circuit professionally I had no problem attending a festival with the minimum comfort required. Years ago I used to sleep in a tiny tent on the ground without so much asa sleeping mat. But there’s something that comes from being on the road and sleeping outside for almost 5 months of the year. Suddenly having creature comforts is a matter of self care and mental health.
The wonderful thing about these domes is that they make an incredible space so very quickly. With standard V3 dome installation it would be unthinkable to build yourself a personal dome just for a week or weekend. You would have to be onsite the week before and the week after just to build and deconstruct your shelter. But with an Archimedes dome you can put up your own 13 foot diameter dome in under 20 minutes. With domes this easy, why would we ever sleep in a tent?
We spend so much time in these domes that our standards of living in them are quite like at home. We no longer shirk at bringing out real blankets, good queen-sized sleeping mats, beautiful lighting and art. When you live on the road personal space is where you can go to be calm and happy amidst the sometimes chaotic world around you.
Last fall Toby and Michael put the shelter capacity of the domes to the test and decided to spend a good part of the fall and winter living in a dome. Although we normally just tour in them, they were working at Werewolf Ranch for a few months and needed something more permanent. It was a great test to see just how long these domes could be useful as housing.
Because the weather was going to start to get colder they needed a good solution for keeping the dome cozy into the winter months. Packing blankets were a great cheap solution for insulating the space. Cut to the shape of hexs and pents, the packing blankets went on the outside of their personal scout-sized tent. When left just like this the packing blankets had the extra benefit of being slightly rain-proofing. Because the seams of the packing blankets pointed outwards there were no drip points going into the dome. In light rain the blankets wicked the moisture down to the ground instead of soaking through into the space.
As the weather got colder they decided to build onto the dome to protect it even more. To add warmth they set up a Nomad sized dome around the Scout. The two domes inside each other added an extra layer of air between the Scout and the outside world. The result was a space that stayed cozy and warm even into the winter, and they lived quite happily in it.
My own favourite personal space of this year was at this years Solstice festival. Kevin and I were out at the festival grounds early to help build one of the stages. After several festivals in a row we knew we wanted to be as comfortable as possible for the few weeks we were there. We also knew that it was projected to be extremely rainy and we weren’t interested in living in a small damp tent in the middle of a rainstorm.
Because we knew it was supposed to rain so much the installation of our dome centred around the weather. Normally when we set up a scout we just install the tent and shade stars, and then we pull over our rain fly only when it starts to rain. But because the rain was supposed to be continuous we decided to set this scout up backwards.
First we set up the frame and then covered it entirely with sheets of painters plastic. The tent then when on the outside of the plastic instead of being clipped to the inside of the frame like we normally do. Generally when we have plastic covering the frame so tightly like this we have a slight problem with water pooling on top of the ceiling. But having the tent on the outside had the effect of wicking all of the moisture down to the ground. Although the amount of rain, lighting and tornado warnings we got during the two weeks was insane, the dome was eternally a dry little shelter we could go back to. Any time we needed a break we could go back to this dome, peel off our wet clothes and crawl into a warm bed between dry bedding. It was heavenly.
The addition of a bug net was also useful at this festival. Being in a forest meant the bugs were prolific, but having a net over our sleeping area meant we were never bothered.
But besides the practically of the dome as a shelter, I also wanted the dome to be a home. For me my spiritual practice is a pretty big part of my grounding. I generally practice meditation in front of a little altar with incense and stones, and I like to set one up wherever I rest my head. I added a little bit of art from my Figment installation and we bought some fresh flowers from the local town. Every time I entered this space I could feel the difficulty of the weather andinstallation stress slipping away. This space was a haven in the midst of a literal storm.
We know that not everyone needs a personal sized dome for their festival participation. But trust us, once you get used to this small piece of home wherever you happen to need it, we know that you’ll never want to go back to tent camping. We know we sure don’t.