50 Features of Special Collections: Baggins End

Baggins End, student housing, circa 1976-1980

Baggins End, student housing, circa 1976-1980

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In 1971 a group of students and Housing Office staff met to begin discussions on a project planning guide for innovative housing. The end result was the Baggins End Innovative Housing also know as “The Domes”.  The idea was to create a “low cost” housing project that emphasized privacy, low rent, innovation and brought environmental awareness  to it’s residents. Construction of 15 two-person, polyurethane fiberglass dome dwelling units began in 1972 with student volunteers and designer Ron Swenson. Sadly, the first dome collapsed during construction. The construction took about one year, and the students who volunteered their time and labor were the very first residents of the sustainable community they had helped to build. Today the 14 remaining domes are located in the Sustainable Research Area at the western end of Orchard park, where they are home to 26 full time UCD students.

Baggins End construction, student housing, circa 1972

While the domes remain today it is in large thanks to the “Save the Domes” campaign and current and past residents involvement in the future of The Domes.  Several years ago university officials considered closing them, citing the exorbitant costs involved in fixing degraded foam, providing wheelchair access and addressing other structural and safety issues. Domes residents voiced concern for keeping their community together in the short term while the university’s Sustainable Living and Learning Task Force explored the long-term future for sustainable student living-learning communities on campus. They had an outpouring of support from the university community, alumni and supporters from the broader region. Eventually, hundreds of volunteers worked with the Solar Community Housing Association, which runs three eco-conscious co-ops in town: They patched foam, built paths and made two Domes wheelchair accessible. It is one of the only student co-housing communities in the USA, and is an early example of the growing Tiny House/Small House Movement. The Baggins End Domes are part of Solar Community Housing Association.

Baggins End, alternative housing area, domes near Orchard Park

Innovative structures when they were first built, the Domes have served as a demonstration of eco-friendly living and have been the subject of research, tours and even UCD courses. Baggins End continues to be a thriving cooperative living community and a testament to Davis innovation and environmental awareness.

If you are interested in learning even more about this uniquely Davis institution, stop by Special Collections and explore the archives. Built in 1972 the archives contains meeting announcements, office files and minutes, correspondence, planning documents, photographs, promotional materials, newspaper clippings and other audiovisual materials relating to the Baggins End student housing community. Prior to being located in Special Collections the Domes Archives lived in Herb Hall (the storage shed) until 1997. There were approximately 15 boxes of photos and historical documents transfered to the UCD Library at that time.

Baggins End: Innovative Housing
Collection Number: AR-049
Extent: 11.1 linear feet
Inclusive Dates: 1972-1997.

This collection is stored offsite so advance notice is required to view the collection.

Baggins End, student housing, circa 1976-1980

For further information about Baggins end visit:

Baggins End: A cooperative living community- http://bagginsend.net/history.html

Solar Community Housing Association ~ Baggins End Domes- http://schadavis.org/campus-housing/baggins-end-domes