Each Binishell starts as a two-dimensional shape on the ground, ringed by a wooden form into which an air bladder, reinforcing steel rebar, and a load of concrete is placed. As the concrete sets, an air pump fills the bladder and a concrete dome begins to rise from the Earth. An hour later, the concrete has hardened, the bladder is deflated, removed for reuse, and the building's soaring shell is ready for inspection and interior construction. The concept is bizarre, combining a building material from the time of Julius Caesar with a Jetsons aesthetic, but the approach has already worked before.
Binishells were pioneered by Dr. Dante Bini, Nicoló's father, and the first Binishell, which popped up in 1964, is still standing. All told, over 1,600 Binishells have been built in 23 countries across the globe, including gymnasium-sized shells 120 feet in diameter and tiny bubble-shaped bungalows in the developing world. "Binishells have survived even extreme environments—such as the lava, ash and constant earthquakes on Mount Etna—for almost 50 years," says Nicoló.