Steve Baer and Holly Baer: Dome Home Enthusiasts

A pair of interviews with Steve Baer and Holly Baer about their perapetetic life, their experiments with solar energy and variations on the dome home concept, and the company they founded, Zomeworks, to build Zomehomes.

| July/August 1973

During the late 60's, a group of "dirty hippies" — as they were then known — dropped out of consumerist America's mainstream and began settling in the arid reaches of this country's Southwest. There, they usually eked out a living by raising organic gardens, doing odd jobs, selling craft products ... and just plain scrounging. 

Well, undoubtedly, some of those dropouts really were the ne'er-do-wells that their parents thought they were. But others in the crowd were genuine visionaries, philosophers, social critics and Renaissance men ... and women. Steve and Holly Baer certainly fit into the second category. 

The Baers, as so many of us have done since the mid-50's, did some rambling from one school and occupation to another and saw a little of the world before they came to rest near Albuquerque, New Mexico in the last half of the 60's. Steve was especially restless. He was capable enough to make a way for himself and his family wherever he went ... but he couldn't seem to convince himself that he belonged in any of our culture's neat little pigeonholes. 

The answer, of course, was simple (whether the Baers knew it at the time or not) ... they'd just have to start building a new culture. Which they, and some others, proceeded to do. 

The Baers — in alliance with a few of the Southwest's young communes — began by showing the world that very inexpensive dome housing could be fabricated from the tops of junked automobiles (Steve's out-of-print manual, Dome Cookbook, is still the classic reference on the subject). 

Steve then moved on to develop zomes (open, airy buildings that offer much greater structural flexibility than domes). At almost the same time, he plunged deeply into make-it-work-on-a-practical-basis solar energy research. Eventually, with two friends, Steve founded Zomeworks, a company that designs and manufactures zomes, solar water heaters and other imaginative hardware that springs from the fertile brains of Baer and the young innovators that are drawn to him. 

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