Blue sky thinking

Based in Southampton, Solardome Industries designs and manufactures aluminium geodesic domes up to 25 metres in diameter for domestic, commercial and education markets worldwide. Catherine Roth talks to Pippa Bailey, Solardome’s Managing Director, to find out more about her role and the rise of this innovative company.

When did you become Managing Director of Solardome Industries?
Pippa Bailey: Solardome has been a family business since 1995 and I’ve worked on and off for it since I was 16. My background is in marketing and I was previously Business and Marketing Manager at Siemens. I knew that Solardome had great potential and have been running it full time since 2008.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
PB: I am passionate about, and inspired by our domes. I like the variety, getting involved and overseeing every department. Our knowledge of each project means that if a customer from five years ago phones up, I’ll know them. I love that no day is ever the same. Much of my time is involved with design and innovation, we are constantly improving the products. I get involved in the most complicated PRO Dome sales as well as strategy and staffing.

Why choose Solardome?
PB: We are unique in Europe. We use high quality materials and the domes are built to last. They’re loved for their versatility and calming atmosphere. Domes extend the time you can spend in the garden, and if the sun is out, you can sunbathe in November! You can have 40 guests around for an outdoor party and not worry about the wind and rain.

Do you have a favourite dome?
PB: The Solardome Retreat. At six metres in diameter it’s a lovely shape and adds something a bit special to your garden. It’s light and airy and spacious enough to get a real lifestyle feeling with a decent size hot tub and alfresco dining inside.

Describe some of Solardome’s biggest challenges.
PB: We relish the bigger design challenges and created a whole sphere for the Crystal Maze television show this year. We pushed the requirements of design capabilities whilst having just 10 weeks to deliver the project before filming began. In the Arctic Circle in Norway we built a snow globe under the Northern Lights, a 15-metre dome that needed to withstand extreme snow loadings and in which a three-storey house was built.

Where would you like to take Solardome in the years ahead?
PB: Traditionally, Solardomes were used to add something a bit different to our customers’ gardens, and are now established in schools, visitor attractions, healthcare facilities and community gardens throughout the world. We have always yearned to build a 25-metre dome and use it as our office and factory. This would be a great testimonial, and also showcase what we can achieve.

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