passive solar houses

Steve Baer’s zomes

From the books by Buckminster Fuller or Lewis Mumford he carefully read, to the mathematics and physics he studied, to the frames he welded when he came back from the Army in the 60s, everything lead Los Angeles-born Steve Baer to the path of invention. 

At the beginning of the American counterculture, he became interested in the possibilities of building innovative structures using technology that wouldn’t necessarily degrade or complicate people’s lives - like solar energy. 

Author of the celebrated and out of print “Dome Cookbook” published in 1968, and architect of the first rural hippie commune Drop City, Steve Baer founded Zomeworks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a company that specialized in passive energy solar products and “zomes” buildings, dome shaped zonohedra living spaces. His avant-garde work also fascinated renowned artist Oscar Tuazon who recently recreated one of Baer’s zome complexes at Art Basel…

Steve Baer must be regarded as an energy pioneer, a visionary inventor and a great residential designer. In 1975, he designed this beautiful house located in Rancho Las Cruces, Gaviota, CA, surrounded by oak woodland, grassland, small streams and springs. A utopian paradise made a reality.


This is my idea for a tiny house. It’s bigger than most micro homes I have seen, with the main structure at 15 x 30 feet. This is partially because I have four children, and also because my husband is a large, over 6ft guy who isn’t too keen on the idea of being stuffed into a small space. This way we still get full sized appliances and beds. I loved the idea of the bookshelf that transforms into a ladder. The loft would also have railing all-around and be open to the living room below. I envision the upstairs beds as cubby beds, with drawers underneath, and bookshelves all around the inside. The master bed would have drawers underneath as well, and every available wall space in the master bedroom would be bookshelves. There is a full sized stackable washer and dryer in one of the bedroom closets. I want the whole roof covered in solar panels, and in the greenhouse I would like to use aquaponics to grow our food year round, and use the freefall water coming out of the tank into the plant/filter media with small hydroelectric wheels to power the pumps. There would also be a small covered front porch that I will add later. I think the shape of the house would be barn type roof trusses, just a little taller than average with an 8 foot peak at the ceiling, and with the beds built into the walls along the long sides, with a dormer in each bed cubby space. I like the idea of all in one composting toilets, and I would love to use the home’s gray water to heat the floors by running it up underneath the solar panels to heat it, then pumping it back into the tubes under the flooring. I will probably try to salvage as much as possible from craigslist, etc. The one splurge, however, is that I want a beautiful rainbow quartz in gray granite countertop. Also, I realize the fireplace chimney is incompatible with the dormer upstairs from it, so I will have to come up with a good fix for that like moving the bed and having a fireplace in the loft as well.
Sorry for the watermarks in the image, free android room builder.