Made On Earth — In the Zome

Craft & Design
Made On Earth — In the Zome


The next big thing in construction may follow the example of the car industry — it might be all about the hybrid.

Rob Bell and Patricia Algara created their own hybrid structure, a DIY greenhouse they call the Algarden Zome. A Zome is a “sort of hybridized structure; part geodesic dome, part jewel, and part yurt,” explains Bell, who used the same concept to make a tent-like “Zomecile” that won accolades at the Austin Maker Faire in 2007.

By salvaging the plastic sheeting from an old collapsed greenhouse and making good use of their ShopBot CNC router, this software engineer and landscape architect duo were able to inexpensively build a replicable design. They based the structure on a class of polyhedra known as zonohedra.

“While a dome will tend
 to resemble a sphere, a Zome will resemble a jewel,” explains Bell, who works as a designer and fabricator when he’s not writing software.

Designed as a model for building similar structures, the Algarden Zome designs are open source and available free from the Google 3D Warehouse.

While the goal was to create a structure that anyone with access to a CNC tool could easily make and assemble, that’s not to say the initial build was a piece of cake. The Algarden Zome took 80 hours of CNC cutting and assembly, then friends were recruited for more days of site prep, painting, and assembly.

The biggest difficulty Bell and Algara had was managing the many distinct but similar-looking parts. The Algarden Zome consists of 84 individual panels, each built from two separate frames encasing translucent plastic sheeting. The 168 panel frames are actually made from 1,344 individual pieces cut from marine-grade birch plywood, and keeping all these pieces organized was challenging.

The unique building pattern is extremely versatile, and its jewel-like symmetry makes it a nice fit for yoga studios and guest cottages, Bell points out: “The organic design is very aesthetically harmonious and spiritually resonant.”

More Zome Photos:

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).