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The Geodesic Dome FAQ

What is a geodesic dome?

A geodesic dome is a spherical structure made up of interconnected straight lines, usually triangular panels, instead of curved surfaces. The short struts which form geometric panels to approximate a circular shape make a geodome robust because they distribute stress throughout the framework. So despite their delicate appearance, they are capable of withstanding heavy loads and resisting strong winds.

Geodesic domes are lightweight, aerodynamic, insulates efficiently, easy to construct and scalable. For these reasons and because geodomes insulate efficiently, they’re ideal structures for emergency shelters, greenhouses, arenas and hangars.

How to build a geodesic dome?

Since geodesic domes are easy to assemble, inexpensive and easy to turn down, they’re also easy to move. In fact, one person can build a 6-metre geodome without help. First, prepare the dome struts and purchase the necessary materials.

For a simplified geodome that would be used as a temporary shelter, you’ll need metal 3/4 electrical conduit, pipe cutter, electric drill with a cord, titanium drill bits, sledgehammer, anvil and heavy-duty tarps for covering. You can substitute the struts and covering with sturdier materials depending on your needs. Check out step-by-step instructions here using the top to bottom assembly sequence.

Who invented the geodesic dome?

American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) is known as the inventor of the geodesic dome. Fuller, or Bucky as his peers affectionately call him, wore many hats in his lifetime including stints as an engineer, mapmaker, poet, editor, businessman, inventor and all-around futurist.

Even then he was concerned about the increasing scarcity of earth’s natural resources, hence he was focused on using science and technology in conceiving more efficient ways of handling our planet’s dwindling resources. The eco-friendly geodesic dome is the one of his enduring contributions to sustainable architecture. Bucky himself lived in a dome home during his career as a research professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale from 1959-1970.

How to build a geodesic dome home?

For a 2v geodome, here are the basic steps to set up your dome home courtesy of Zip Tie Domes:

2v Geodesic Dome animated gif

  1. Find a level area at least 16′ by 16′ wide to assemble the dome.
  2. Unpack the dome materials and place them in a convenient spot outside the area where the dome will be constructed. Use wire cutters or manually unwind the wire for releasing the struts from the restraining wires.
  3. Build the Foundation Ring.
  4. Assemble the Foundation Ring.
  5. Assemble the First Tier Supports.
  6. Raise the First Tier.
  7. Set the Red Struts for the Second Tier.
  8. Set the 10 Blue Struts for the Second Tier.
  9. Complete the Second Tier.
  10. Complete The Dome!

You can download the complete instructional manual here, watch the video here or check out other manufacturers of prefabricated dome homes.

How to build a geodesic dome greenhouse?

Finished structure of a DIY geodome greenhouse (Source: Geodome UK)

The efficient insulation and aerodynamic design of a geodesic dome make it a perfect architectural choice for a greenhouse. There are a lot of available plans and DIY videos you can check out online, some are free while others can be downloaded for a fee.

The geodome frequency also depends on the area of the plot of land you want to build the geodome greenhouse and how big you want the dome to be. Acidome is a great online tool for calculating the measurements needed to construct your geodome greenhouse.

What is geodesic dome frequency?

The letter “v” refers to the dome frequency. For example, “2v” in a 2v geodesic dome means “2 frequency” and a 3v dome is a 3 frequency dome. In addition, the higher the “v” or frequency, the more triangles or subdivisions there are in a geodesic dome.

A higher frequency dome with more triangles will be sturdy and more spherical in shape compared to a lower frequency dome. Finally, it’s also much more complicated to build and assemble higher frequency domes since they will have more struts.

What is a 2v geodesic dome?

A 2v geodesic dome is a relatively simple construction because it includes only two different sized triangles. You can use either a hub and strut construction with two different sized struts or opt for a panelised construction using 2 types of panels. It can be assembled and disassembled quickly, so a 2v geodome framework can usually be seen for temporary or emergency shelters such as tents.

What is the largest geodesic dome?

The Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome in Japan (Source: Saitoshika West)

The biggest of all geodesic domes, with a diameter of 216m is in Fukuoka, Japan. The Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome was built in 1993 and can accommodate over 38,000 people. It is used as venues for major sporting events and concerts. The second biggest geodome is also in Japan, the Nagoya Dome at 187m, followed by the Superior Dome in Michigan, USA at 163m.

Where are geodesic domes found in the world?

There are thousands of geodesic domes around the world, of varying sizes and significance. Most of the notable ones are located in Europe and North America where the father of the geodesic dome was born. Some of them are full spheres like the Spaceship Earth at Epcot Centre in Walt Disney World, while others are cupolas and part of a larger structure or building like the Glass Dome in Dali Museum.

You can read our article on the 50 Remarkable Geodesic Domes of the World for an introduction to some of the most interesting and noteworthy geodomes.

Where to buy a geodesic dome?

There are several companies which sell instructional manuals with geodome kits made of prefabricated materials ready for assembly. F Domes sell dome kits for glamping, pop-up shops and events. You can search websites like Amazon for geodome products ready for self-assembly. There are also companies like Natural Spaces Domes which sell ready-for-occupancy geodome homes all over the United States.

The DIY movement has likewise made it possible for anyone to make their own geodomes, whether as a shed, a greenhouse or a summertime space. The Internet is full of helpful geodome calculators along with detailed directions and video documentation to get you started with your project.

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