Monday, 10 November 2008

How to Build a Geodesic Dome Model

A geodesic dome is a sphere-like structure composed of a complex network of triangles. The triangles create a self-bracing framework that gives structural strength while using a minimum of material. The term geodesic is from Latin, meaning earth dividing. A geodesic line is the shortest distance between any two points on a sphere.

The idea of combining triangles with the arch was pioneered by German engineer Dr. Walther Bauersfeld when he designed the world's first projection planetarium, built in Jena, Germany in 1922.

However, it was Buckminster Fuller ("Bucky") who conceived the concept of geodesic dome homes. Fuller's first patent for a geodesic dome was issued in 1954. An excellent read and lots of information can be found in his book BuckyWorks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today.

So, what is a geodesic dome?

Geodesic domes are comprised of a network of triangles that form a somewhat spherical surface. There are several dome classes that are referred to as 1V, 2V, 3V etc. The more complex the network of triangles, the more spherical the geodesic dome and the higher the class number. A 1V dome has fewer triangles, uses only one size triangle in its simple pattern, and less closely approximates a hemisphere. A 6V dome has many triangles of multiple sizes that are arranged in a complex pattern to create a more smooth and spherical shape.

Higher class domes offer greater structural stability and are ideal for larger dome frames. After contemplating the challenges of more complex domes, we decided that a 2V dome made from EMT (electrical metallic tubing) conduit would best meet our needs and would be the most economical choice as well.
Some very helpful information to start your research can be found here.

With all the buzz about 'tiny houses' at the moment, geodesic domes provide an efficient, inexpensive, and durable option for home builders and DIYers. For $350, an African family can be housed in a corrugated metal dome. Plastic and fiberglass domes used for sensitive radar equipment in Arctic regions and for weather stations around the world. Geodesic domes are also used for emergency shelter and mobile military housing.

Here you'll find the steps of construction of an easy-to-assemble model of one type of geodesic dome.

Original by Trevor Blake
Photo © VisionsofAmerica, Joe Sohm/Getty Images

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