From long-drop to snow hut


A portable hut that’s been 10 years in the making owes its success to a long-drop toilet in Glenorchy’s

DKDomes creator Dan Kelly (pictured below) will launch his product at Coronet Peak during the inaugural Winter Games next month. It will house the ski-racing commentary crew.

It’s relatively lightweight, strong, and can be easily dropped by helicopter into valley floors, or on to the summit of Mt Everest, and into places hit by natural disaster or devastated by war.

But in discovering whether his shelter building could withstand snowstorms and winds of up to 300km per hour, Glenorchy-based designer Kelly learned it was his long-drop toilet – not his original half-globe shaped prototype – which could handle the elements.

“We found that the half-globe got completely buried by the snow. But the cylindrical-shaped toilet was fine – the wind vortex around the cylinder shape blew the snow clear.”

Kelly roped in Christchurch engineer Arthur Tyndall about eight years ago and the team have been perfecting the model at 1850 metres up Glenorchy’s Mt Larkins ever since.

The design is a modified grain silo made of galvanised steel – but Tyndall engineered the special torque anchor systems that hold the structure in place, even on 30-degree slopes.

The 3.6m diameter DKDome on display at the Winter Games will retail at $18,500 – but Kelly says the design-build concept means they can be as large as 20m in diameter and be fitted out inside as required.