These mud-covered domes could provide shelter during natural disasters — and cost just $3,500 to make

Stephanie Chaltiel

A French architect is using a drone to create 6-foot-tall mud-covered domes for emergencies and refugee housing.

The domes are made by attaching bags of hay to a wooden frame and spraying a mixture of clay and fibres onto the structure with a drone.

Architect Stephanie Chaltiel most recently featured one of these domes at the London Design Festival in September. Chaltiel told Business Insider that her team has worked to make the domes sturdier, creating a smaller door and strengthening junctions in the wooden frame. The London dome withstood three days of heavy rain without a problem, she said.

Take a look at how the “Mud Shell” is made.

First, wooden struts are arranged in a dome shape to create the frame.

Stephanie Chaltiel

Hay bags filled with sand are then placed on the frame to cover the exterior.

Stephanie Chaltiel

Spraying the dome with mud makes the structure sturdy and weatherproof, Chaltiel said.

Stephanie Chaltiel

Chaltiel said it cost about $US2,300 to hire a drone service, which requires two pilots.

Stephanie Chaltiel

The frame cost about $US230 to build, Chaltiel said, adding that the London project cost roughly $US3,475 in total.

Chaltiel’s team is currently designing a house for a cliff in a remote part of Vietnam.

Stephanie Chaltiel

Unlike the dome built in London – which aimed to show the technology’s potential for emergency shelters – the Vietnam home is meant to showcase a larger, luxurious house made of natural materials, Chaltiel said. She predicts it will cost just over $US17,300.

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