Last updated: 30th March 2021.
From dome ceilings and full buildings to Arctic homes and artificial biomes, geodesic domes around the world continue to inspire and amaze architecture enthusiasts and curious travellers alike. The elegant and aerodynamic form of geodomes create expansive yet economical spaces ideal for greenhouses and arenas. Here are some of the most notable geodomes of the world to guide you on your journey.
Geodesic Domes in Europe
France (Paris) – La Géode
La Géode is a striking steel globe, 36 metres in diameter, positioned at the centre of Parc de la Villette in Paris, France. This impressive piece of contemporary architecture was designed by architect Adrien Fainsilber and completed in May 1985.
From the outside, the gleaming surface of this geodome reflects the surrounding park and the sky, making it appear almost invisible when viewed at the right angle. Inside, the Géode serves as an exceptional IMAX theatre with a capacity of 400 seats. The 1,000 m² curved screen, combined with an Omnimax projector, gives audiences a unique viewing experience with images appearing nine times larger than an ordinary 35mm projector.
Germany (Berlin) – Reichstag Dome
Officially opened on April 19, 1999, the historic Reichstadt Dome sits atop the 19th century Reichstag building in Berlin like a shining crown. The dome was constructed as part of a commission awarded to acclaimed architect Sir Norman Foster in 1992 to renovate and transform the Reichstag building which would house the country’s unified government after the fall of East Germany.
This iconic glass and steel geodome attracts a lot of tourists not only for its innovative design, but also for being a symbol of transparency and the democratic ideal. It has an inverted cone of mirrors running down the middle that illuminates the government chambers below. At the top of the cone is a viewing deck that gives visitors a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Berlin.
Hungary (Lake Balaton) – The Globe Observatory
The Globe Observatory, called Gömbkilátó in Hungarian, is built on top of a hill at Balatonboglár overlooking Lake Balaton. This eye-catching geodesic dome is used as an observatory tower for the public to enjoy 360-degree views of the landscape. It has been a recognisable landmark in the area since the 1960s. While it is already a sight to behold in broad daylight, at night it becomes even more conspicuous with floodlights illuminating the iron framework.
Italy (Rome) – Palazzetto Dello Sport
The Palazzetto Dello Sport in Rome was constructed for the 1960 Summer Olympic Games. It was designed by architect Annibale Vitellozzi and inaugurated in 1957. The dome itself is made of ribbed reinforced concrete, 61 metres in diameter, using prefabricated pieces and supported by flying buttresses. Ribbon windows circle this dome to illuminate the arena. This small and unassuming sports complex has a 3,500 seating capacity for basketball games, but can accommodate up to 5,600 spectators for other sporting events.
Kosovo (Pristina) – National Library of Kosovo
This unsettling structure is the brain-child of Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic. The National Library of Kosovo in its current form was inaugurated in 1982 and completed in 1986. Instead of a singular geodesic dome, the library consists of 99 domes in varying sizes perched on top of numerous cube sections that are covered in metal lattice. The austere appearance of the building stands in stark contrast to its green environs. Due to the controversy surrounding its style and meaning, some people consider it as one of the ugliest buildings in the world.
Spain (Barcelona) – The Dome at NH Collection Barcelona Tower
The NH Collection Barcelona Tower, formerly known as Hesperia Tower, shows off Bowellism or the inside-out architectural trademark of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers. This 105-metre building stands out from other luxury hotels in the area because of the glass-roof cupola nestled on top of the tower resembling a spaceship. The Michelin-starred restaurant by Chef Santi Santamaria which originally occupied The Dome has since closed. It’s now being used as a venue for private events.
Spain (Figueres) – The Glass Dome in Dali Museum
The Glass Dome at the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Catalonia, Spain is one of the defining features of the building. It was designed by architect Emilio Pérez Piñero to preserve and pay homage to the stage of the old municipal theatre which was ravaged by fire at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The remains of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí can also be found in a crypt underneath the stage illuminated by the transparent geodesic cupola.
Switzerland (Monthey) – Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel
Whitepod Eco-Luxury Hotel takes glamping to a whole new level with stunning vistas of the Swiss Alps. This award-winning and family-friendly accommodation has 15 geodomes or pods that are anchored on wooden platforms located 1,400 metres above sea level overlooking Lake Geneva and the majestic mountains. A wood chip furnace heats the space while lanterns envelope the dome in a warm cosy glow for a relaxing stay during your luxury adventure.
The Netherlands (Zoetermeer) – The UFO Zoetermeer Project
As stated in the name, the UFO Zoetermeer Project looks like an extra-terrestrial craft about to land at the Spazio Shopping Centre in Zoetermeer, Netherlands. In reality, inside this geodome is a state-of-the-art health club designed by Frits van Dongen. Since its completion in November 2005, it has become an iconic landmark which people affectionately call “The UFO.” The dome is covered with curved and stucco-embossed aluminium panels that are supported by three 80cm thick concrete pedestals.
UK (Cornwall) – Eden Project Biomes
The Eden Project Biomes is a product of biomimicry and creative insights from Grimshaw Architects. The designers made the blueprint of the Core building using the growth patterns of plants. Meanwhile, the adaptive behaviour of soap bubbles to irregular surfaces provided a perfect architectural solution on how to build on the uneven sands of the clay pit.
The two-metre thick transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) that cover the two layers of polygonal steel frames created the bubbly effect of the biomes. Overall, the completed structures perfectly capture the project’s thrust towards environmental education for a better future.
Geodesic Domes in North America
Canada (British Columbia) – Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver
The Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver is not just a building, it’s a piece of art. It’s like a huge terrarium with a temperature-controlled environment featuring three separate climatic zones: Tropical, Subtropical and Desert. This dome conservatory is home to about 500 varieties of plant life and over 100 exotic birds.
The structure of this “Class A” heritage building consists of 2,324 pieces of 5-inch extruded aluminium tubing and each triangular facet is covered by plexiglass bubbles set in aluminium glazing. In 1971, this geodome was awarded the first Vincent Massey Award for Excellence in Urban Environment.
Canada (British Columbia) – Telus Sphere at Vancouver’s Science World
Among locals, the Telus Sphere at Vancouver’s Science World is known as the “golf ball” since it looks like it’s ready to be teed off. It may take a giant though because this famous geodesic dome is made of 1-mm thick extruded aluminium and aluminium panels that weigh about 6,800 kg.
The chief architect Bruno Freschi was inspired by the father of geodesic domes, Richard Buckminster Fuller, when he was designing this geodome for the 1986 World’s Fair. After the expo, a government-backed fundraising campaign helped turn this iconic landmark into Science World. Today, the upper section of the Telus Sphere houses an OMNIMAX Theatre with a seating capacity of 400.
Canada (Quebec) – Montreal Biosphère
The man responsible for popularising and perfecting the geodesic dome, Richard Buckminster Fuller, designed the Montreal Biosphère in Quebec. It was commissioned by the United States government for the 1967 World Fair, then subsequently donated to Canada.
The 20-storey-tall Biosphère showcases two-thirds of a sphere with a steel frame covered by 1,900 acrylic panels. This sturdy geodome has withstood the test of time, surviving a major fire in 1976 and a snow storm in 1998. After several closures, renovations and ownership changes, this impressive structure currently stands as a museum dedicated to eco-friendly practices and technologies.
Mexico (Mexico City) – Palacio de los Deportes
The Palacio de los Deportes was designed by architects Félix Candela, Antonio Peyri and Enrique Castañeda Tamborell for the 1968 Olympics. This metal geodome has become an iconic landmark and architectural marvel in Mexico City partly because of its distinct façade which resembles an armadillo’s leathery shell.
Most major concerts, exhibitions, sporting events and trade fairs are held in this stadium which can accommodate around 17,000 people. So far artists like The Cure, Katy Perry, Guns n ‘Roses and Rihanna have performed at the Palacio.
Mexico (Morelos) – Oaxtepec Greenhouse
Just like the Eden Biomes and the Montreal Biosphere, the Oaxtepec Greenhouse is a hexagonal geodesic dome which means instead of triangles, its framework is made up of hexagonal panels. This aluminium greenhouse is 60 metres in diameter and is the home of a large selection of plants in the region, many of which have medicinal properties. At the centre of this geodome is a river containing many minerals giving the hot water an other-worldly cerulean hue.
Mexico (Nuevo Leon) – Domo de Proyecciones Nave Lewis, Parque Fundidora
This geodome located at Parque Fundidora in Nuevo Leon has an area of 10 thousand square metres. It is a large space and projection centre divided into two large exhibition halls and a central area. It was previously used as part of the lamination department where corrugated rod, wire rod, angles and channels were produced since 1956. Nowadays, this shiny dome inside the park is often used as a venue for conventions, fairs, business and various social events.
USA (California) – Queen Mary Dome at Long Beach
Like a marshmallow dome plopped at the Long Beach harbour, the Queen Mary geodome is a striking view overhead and even on land. It is best known as the hangar of business magnate Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.
In recent years, it has become a pop culture fixture as a filmmaking location of Batman Returns and the venue of a Star Trek Exhibit. It can easily accommodate large-scale events and productions with a 39-metre high ceiling and about 7000 sq. m. of space with a capacity of over 2,000 guests.
USA (Florida) – Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World, Orlando
Undoubtedly the main attraction of Epcot in Walt Disney World, this massive full-sphere geodome is the product of many brilliant minds. Walt Disney himself conceptualised and sketched the design for Epcot Center, including the geodesic dome Spaceship Earth. Acclaimed author Ray Bradbury likewise helped design this 50-metre high structure and wrote the original storyline for the ride.
The architects and engineers ultimately opted for a steel-framed geodesic sphere, 48 metres in diameter, with six columns and an internal tower for support. This futuristic construction adds to the unique experience of the time-machine theme of Disney’s signature ride.
USA (Michigan) – The Superior Dome
The Superior Dome is considered as the world’s largest wooden geodome with a diameter of 163 metres. 781 massive Douglas fir beams make up the triangle panels of The Superior Dome. Inside, the gorgeous wooden framework is visible for you to admire.
With a capacity of 16,000 people, the dome serves as Northern Michigan University’s sports complex with a flexible area and retractable artificial turf that can be rearranged depending on the event being held. Aside from sports, locals also use the space for walking, various exhibits as well as a training facility.
USA (Minnesota) – Natural Spaces Domes
Unlike other geodomes in this list, this one is a bunch of prefabricated domes that have become homes to various residents in Minnesota. The company, Natural Spaces Domes, manufactures dome home systems using their patented Super-Lok© connector system and Super-Wal double strut framework.
Using their dome designs, they endeavour to create maximum living space using the least amount of materials. The result? A well-designed, expertly engineered and eco-friendly space that won’t break the bank! Even though the company is based in Minnesota, they have dome homes listed all over the United States. So wherever you may find yourself exploring, you can check out some of their dome structures for yourself.
USA (Missouri) – Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden
The Climatron, 42 metres in diameter and 21-metre high, was finished in 1960 and regarded as the world’s first air-conditioned greenhouse with climate-control technology. In 1961, St. Louis architects Murphy and Mackey received the R. S. Reynolds Memorial Award for their architectural use of aluminium at the Climatron. It also made the list of 100 most significant architectural achievements in 1976.
Despite the accolades, the dome presented a lot of challenges over the years, especially the plexiglass panels that initially covered the aluminium framework. Leakage and discolouration were addressed during renovation by replacing the plastic panels with heat-tempered glass panes and further reinforcing the structure by building a dome within the dome.
USA (Nebraska) – The Desert Dome at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha
The Desert Dome at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world. This cloche-like structure covers the world’s largest indoor desert. It recreates three remarkable deserts of the world: the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States.
Opened in March 2002, this 13-storey structure is reinforced by concrete and steel then covered by thick acrylic, triangle panels. During sunset, the warm light of the setting sun penetrates the transparent panels which adds a dramatic effect to the artificial desert terrain.
USA (Nevada) – Pioneer Theater Auditorium at Reno
The Pioneer is a beloved building by the public both for its architectural innovation and cultural significance. Nicknamed “the Golden Turtle,” it has become a notable venue for the performing arts, including major Broadway shows. The architectural firm of Bozalis, Dickinson, and Roloff designed the Pioneer Theater Auditorium and was completed in December 1967. This gold-anodized aluminium geodesic dome has 500 panels with two layers, an exterior aluminium dome and an interior steel-frame dome.
USA (Ohio) – Aero-Acoustics Propulsion Laboratory at the NASA Glenn Research Centre
The Aero-Acoustics Propulsion Laboratory at the NASA Glenn Research Centre, or “The Dome” for short, is the site for testing and solving aircraft engine noise and acoustic problems. Several reasons make this an ideal space for sound measurements and tests. The dome’s large door is able to vent out the hot engine exhaust without noisy flow collectors. In addition, anechoic wedges are installed on all the surfaces of this geodesic dome structure to keep out sounds from the surroundings.
USA (Ohio) – ASM International World Headquarters at Materials Park
This is the world’s largest open air geodesic dome which serves as the headquarters of ASM International, also known as the American Society for Metals. Unlike other domes with glass or plastic panels, this one has an open latticework arching over the circular office at Materials Park.
The dome is supported by five pylons. The framework is made of extruded aluminium pipe, 31-metre high and 76-metre wide, with more than 65,000 parts. This graceful half-sphere aptly exemplifies man’s technological mastery of materials, an architectural choice in line with the organisation’s vision.
Geodesic Domes in Central and South America
Brazil (Sobradinho) – Brasilia Digital TV Tower
The Brasilia Digital TV Tower (Torre de TV Digital), also known as the Cerrado Flower (Savannah Flower) is modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer’s last work (2012) and the tallest tower in the region at 182 metres. It resembles a sprouting flower, hence the nickname. Two glass domes serve as the leaves of this flower tower, each capable of holding around 59 people.
The first of the two geodomes, 60 metres up, is an art gallery which features a model of Brazil, while the other at 80 metres houses a café bar. From the bar you can see 360 degrees panoramic views of the city and access is free of charge.
Chile (Torres del Paine National Park) – EcoCamp Patagonia Domes
Opened in 2001, the upscale and eco-friendly dome accommodations at EcoCamp Patagonia Domes serve as cosy retreats for travellers looking for a nature trip. It is the world’s first geodesic dome hotel with stunning views of the Andes mountain range and the park’s impressive granite towers.
It is sustainable living at its best since the domes run on solar and hydraulic energy, all waste is either composted or recycled and meals are made with locally-grown food. For meticulously following quality management and environmentally-friendly standards, the ecocamp has been awarded both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications.
Panama (Gamboa) – Canopy Tower
This bird-watching observatory inside Soberanía National Park used to be a military radar station. After it was closed in 1995, owner Raul Arias de Para turned the five-storey tower into an eco-lodge. The Canopy Tower is considered as the premier ecotourism destination in Panama, immersing you deep in the heart of the forest teeming with flora and fauna.
At the observation deck sits a 9-metre geotangent dome, a variation of the geodesic dome, which was used to protect the radar from the elements. Underneath this golf-like ball is now the main dining area of the lodge.
Venezuela (Caracas) – Poliedro de Caracas
The Poliedro de Caracas is the largest geodesic dome in Venezuela with aluminium tubes spanning 143 metres. It is used as a venue for various events, shows and tournaments. It was designed by Thomas C. Howard of Synergetics in 1971 and finished in 1974. It has a seating capacity of 13,500, but it can accommodate up to 20,000 people. Some of the more high-profile events that have been held in this arena include the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament or the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.
Venezuela (Caracas) – El Helicoide
Construction of the El Helicoide started in 1956. It was envisioned as a drive-in mall with the ultimate in modern and artistic architecture—a glittering pyramid of spiralling coils rising up the hill. In reality, this ambitious vision never came into fruition due to budget constraints and other socio-political problems. The geodesic dome at its summit was even damaged during the 1992 coup d’état attempt.
This failed piece of architecture is now surrounded by the slums of San Agustin, its futuristic structure dimmed by the gritty environs. After being abandoned, this Babylon-inspired building now serves as the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).