The EOS Biodome is emerging

Working on a volunteer basis is more complicated than with a construction company. Firstly, our budget is more limited and irregular, especially as the EOS is a small and fledgling but therefore also creative organisation. The early experiences of the Biodome Project have improved both the team spirit and especially our ability to predict irregularities, to not speak of the huge improvement of our logistics. The biodome is now emerging as a beautiful landmark on Alidhem in Umea, not thanks to anything else but the combined will and the emerging culture growing within and around our movement.

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Each segment of the construction has been different from the one immediately prior, and thus each step has seen the acquisition of new skills. The construction teams have ranged from large to small depending both on interest, weather and the labour intensity needed to accomplish the goals. Numerous hardships have been endured, the most hilarious and yet potentially wrecking the incident when the dome blew off due to high winds, before the opaque panels on the northern side were put in place. This incident, on June 2018, saw the windows turn into sails, and the dome ascended and crashed on the ground, half-way dislodged from its bed of reutilised tires. Yet, a hastily assembled group of six volunteers led by the team leaders managed not only to restructure the dome on its place, but also to anchor it on the tires, using ropes and screws.

The essential aspects of having a working holon tasked with constructing such a complex building, and have this holon composed of a mixture between EOS members, members from other associations, students and refugees, are:

  • Ensure to not have a spiked schedule, but to only plan the date for one event in advance.
  • Ensure that all the tools are available and secured on the working site before the volunteers arrive.
  • Ensure that the volunteers have water and food. For longer working events, the organisation should also ensure that the volunteers have dinner.
  • If the group turns larger than five, there should be two working teams tasked with different operations, ideally they should both be under the coordination of a team leader.
  • If participants for one reason or another are feeling unwell, be kind with them and ask them what troubles them, let them observe.
  • A good spirit is necessary for a functioning volunteer environment.

The dome itself has under every stage almost grown organically, a beautiful shape unlike anything else in the neighbourhood, and unlike every other greenhouse in Umea. The dome combines the sleek modernism of geodesic domes with traditional architecture and aspects from passive housing, creating a hybrid which has unified the technological with the organic. Against the backdrop of the Alidhem area, this is a striking structure which stands out.

Of course, it will also help the urban gardeners to extend their season. As a student city located in the sub-arctic region, Umea has a short growing season which only partially overlaps with the period that students are present in the city. Alidhem is a low-income area where many students live, and most students are not from Umea itself. A challenge for the urban farmers is the difficulty in thus keeping the students they attract, since the period they can be active (during the semesters, when they aren’t working or having vacation in their hometowns or home countries).

Thus, extending the length of the growing season will strengthen the urban gardeners and also turn Umea into a seed-spreading city, since students from throughout the world will return to their home countries with a knowledge and love of urban gardening in their hearts, and thus can sow seeds, some which may even grow into EOS holons.

The dome is here to stay, but it is but the beginning.

We also would like to extend our thanks to Umea Energi and Gron Ungdom for their support!

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