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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Domes constructing new community center

Student-led construction is ongoing for a new community center for the UC Davis Domes community.

Construction of the new community center started approximately two months ago, and the builders anticipate the structure will be finished during the summer.

The Domes is a cooperative living community located on the west side of campus. There are 28 students residing in the Domes, which was built in the 1970s.

Currently, the builders are nearly finished with the floor and heating system. Today will mark a new stage in the project, as concrete will be poured over the existing structure.

“It’s an interesting stage in the process because you can see all of the internals,” said Jonathan Woolley, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and Domes resident.

“A community structure has been talked about the entire time [I’ve lived here], so it’s an interesting thing to witness,” said Margareta Lelea, a geography graduate student who has lived in the Domes on and off for a total of four years.

“I hope for [the community center] to be a vibrant place where people can share ideas and experiences, and somewhere that we can do everything from watching films together to having more rooms for [communal] dinners,” she said.

The community is composed of 14 fiberglass domes, each with a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room area, a bedroom and for most, an upstairs loft.

Domes residents have been working closely with the university to get approval for the structure.

“It’s taken more than a year of planning to get to this stage,” Lelea said.

The structure is being constructed by members of the Domes community.

“It’s been amazing to see the Domes come together and produce this cool structure that’s been built with our own little construction crew,” said Jordan Thompson, a fifth-yearsenior environmental biology major.

The community center will be built in the circular Yurt style traditionally used by Central Asian nomads in The Steppes.

“The yurt is a light building structure,” Woolley said. “It is a low-cost alternative of a standard cement or wood frame building.”

The building’s floor will be built in part with the recycled materials high-fly ash and slag, which will reduce the amount of cement that will be used in the project.

Cement manufacturing is one of the biggest industrial emitters of greenhouse gasses, Woolley said.

“The concrete [used for the community center] will use half as much cement that is used in normal concrete,” he said.

The center will include a solar thermal radiant heating system.

During the day in the winter, spring and fall, the sun, by way of solar panels, will heat a supply of water, and the water will be stored.

When occupants want heat, a pump is turned on, and hot water will be pumped through the floor. The warm floor radiates heat which warms the skin, Woolley said.

He said the radiant heating system saves energy and money while still letting individuals “maintain the same level of physical comfort” as more traditional heating devices.

 

ANNA OPALKA can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com

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