Dome Home

In a storm the eye may be calm, but the safest place is in the mouth. That’s the idea behind this customized home in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Flood-proof and able to withstand gale-force winds, the so-called Dome of a Home stands up to a storm...

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"The molar is one of the strongest things in the human body," says Mark Sigler, a former dentist who applied his dental expertise to home design out of inspiration and necessity. He and his wife, Valerie, took action after seeing the main floor of their previous home carried away by storms too many times. "We were flooded three times in five years, so when the State declared this area a flood zone we applied for a grant to rebuild," says Sigler, whose application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) included his original concept for a structure based on the inherent strengths of the molar. The Siglers got their grant-one of only two accepted from 11,000 applications-and with the help of renowned architect Jonathan Zimmerman their dome design was launched.

While it takes its inspiration from inside the human mouth, the Dome of a Home is completely in synch with its surroundings, Sigler stresses. The curved lines and round shell of the building-which is three storeys high, 72’ x 54’ long-allow wind and water to move around and underneath rather than against it. "Its walls need only be three to four inches thick because it’s aerodynamic," says Sigler, "while other homes need to be one to two feet thick to withstand wind pressure." The ground floor, used for parking only, allows storm waters to pass-through. The main floor, which is actually the second storey, contains three bedrooms, a split-level living room and a kitchen that looks out to a pool and hot tub. The third storey has the master bedroom and bath and a honeymoon suite featuring a cozy deck that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

Their original Dome of a Home was so successful that the Siglers soon began designing other dome dwellings and now have their own custom design company, Dragon Speed, which specializes in structures that protect against the worst that nature dishes out while accentuating its best. "We design spaces that best access and enjoy the gifts of Mother Nature’s beauty," says Sigler. These domed houses not only withstand inclement weather, they also have undeniably eye-catching appeal, taking cues from the works of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Each Dragon Speed home borrows from the environment and boasts the latest technology for in-home comfort. The air-conditioning system, for instance, allows for natural airflow and all the materials used in construction are selected locally.

Want to go tooth for a tooth with a Gulf of Mexico tempest? The Dome of a Home is available for holiday rental at certain times throughout the year-presumably when the Siglers, who still live there, aren’t home.