A RECENTLY completed ‘dome house’ at Bishops Wood environmental centre, near Stourport-on-Severn, could provide a groundbreaking solution to how buildings are made.

Jay Emery, who runs manufacturing specialist Dingley Dell Enterprises, has used African inspired designs to come up with a cost-effective construction system that uses glass reinforced concrete that offers a number of eco-friendly benefits.

Backed by specialist support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands (MAS-WM), the South African entrepreneur is hoping the project will provide the platform for him to enter dramatically different markets, ranging from high spec garden and office buildings through to vital low cost housing for the developing world.

He said: “When I started producing bushman burner chimineas 10 years ago I had to come up with a new material to replace terracotta and, at the time, I could see that glass reinforced concrete could be suitable for numerous applications.

“During a holiday in Thailand I saw that a hotel was using mud huts as temporary accommodation, yet they were often prone to falling down or being washed away. I knew that reinforced glass concrete could provide a much more permanent solution and the hotel was immediately interested in my proposal. Unfortunately, the recession came and the group behind the hotel pulled back any capital funding, but the seed had been sown and I was spurred on to develop a new form of housing from our workshop in Worcester.”

Mr Emery, who came to the UK in 1989, went straight to the drawing board and, tailoring existing designs for his hugely successful African Pot House, came up with a concept that could be built in most gardens in the UK. It doesn’t need planning permission and is also satisfies aid agency guidelines of 30m2 living space.

As a result of accessing advice and guidance from MAS-WM, he qualified for one of the first Proof of Concept grants from Advantage West Midlands, which enabled him to develop the first demonstrator house at Bishops Wood.

With three members of staff working on it, the prototype structure took about 120 hours to complete. The finished house is 3.5m (11ft) high and weighs seen and a half tonnes. It has been completed to satisfy UK building regulations, has been pre-wired for electrics and will act as a community centre for campers at the site.

Mr Emery, who has filed a number of patents to protect the design, said: “There is nothing else like it on the market at the moment.