A Geodesic Dome…what is that?
Geodesic: [definition] Denoting the shortest possible line between two points on a sphere. A geodesic sphere is a convex polyhedron made from triangles.
A geodesic dome is a building based on the geometry of a geodesic sphere. It is a hemispherical thin-shell structure and its triangular elements are rigid and distribute the stress throughout the structure. Thus the domes give the strongest, most robust and largest volume of space, for the least surface area compared to any other accommodation structure.
The triangular elements are made of galvanised steel and held together by aluminium bolts. The way the triangular elements are connected together causes them to create a beautiful dome shape with huge height and room. With its heat resistant thick PVC skin pulled tight across the triangular skeleton, a geodesic dome looks almost space.
A little history for the techies (Wiki)
The first dome that could be called “geodesic” in every respect was designed after World War 1 by Walther Bakersfield, chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss optical company, for a planetarium to house his planetarium projector. A first, small dome was patented, constructed by the firm of Dykerhoff and Wydmann on the roof of the Zeiss plant in Jena, Germany. A larger dome, called “The Wonder of Jena”, opened to the public in July 1926. Some 20 years later, R. Buckminster Fuller named the dome “geodesic” and went on to develop ideas for its use. Although Fuller was not the original inventor, he is credited with the U.S. popularization of the idea, for which he received a U.S. patent in 1954. [Picture 3 – geodesic dome]
Constructing and preparing a Geodesic Dome
Our time lapse video shows how we construct a geodesic dome, step by step:
It is an extremely quick process when you have a few strong hands to assist you and even quicker if you have a handy crane. In a short four hours your dome is erect and secured. Each dome sits on a deep bed of chalk covered by a layer of fresh soil, allowing all water to drain quickly away. Each of these chalk stands is surrounded by Patmian rock, hand cut and laid. All of our domes are pinned with 14 x 1 metre steel rods driven into the earth and welded to foot plates, and the aprons of the PVC skins are buried into the chalk stands – in the fiercest winds the interior is an oasis of utter stillness.
Preparing the interiors
There are a multitude of choices when it comes to the interiors from bare earth to steel floors. Electricity to wood burning stoves. Full bathrooms to a bucket and basin. At eCALA Life we use two sizes of dome – one for sleeping and one for learning, and each is treated differently.
Our 6m diametre, 30m2, 3.6m high bedroom domes, each have an individually constructed wooden floor and interior wall, offering warmth, comfort and some luxury. The bathrooms have Iroko hardwood flooring, allowing water to run off or evaporate. We have full electricity and plumbing providing wonderful showers. We have innovated a cutting edge solution with the most advanced chemical toilet in Europe, which is 100% eco friendly and has removed all requirements for old fashioned toilet waste systems and sewerage.
Our 9m diameter learning domes are each an enormous 65m2 interior space, 4.6m high, with a huge bay window facing the sea. Cushioned eco flooring in the form of coco-mat provides a state-of-the art surface for everything from teaching leadership to practising Pilates.
Building a village of Geodesic Domes
The amazing huge space within each bedroom dome belies a tiny footprint of 6m diameter on the outside. This allows you to cluster a village full of domes with utter privacy in a relatively small area. In our case we have two concentric circles of 8 and 16 domes – in total 24 domes sitting around a massive 16m amphitheatre, providing 200m2 of space, and the use of the amphitheatre shape provides the perfect construct for the concentric circles of geodesic domes. A person staying in one dome has zero awareness of the neighbours surrounding them.
Repairs and maintenance
A properly constructed dome from a reliable manufacturer – eCALA Life uses the best in Europe: www.domeseurope.com – will last 15 years. Galvanised steel posts, aluminium bolts and the best welded skins in the world ensure your dome will require simply ‘washing’ occasionally. This is another beautiful thing about the geodesic dome, it requires very low maintenance.
Uses of a Geodesic Dome
A dome can be 6m diameter x 3.6m height (30m2 floor space) or 30m diameter x 15m height (700m2 floor space) – so it can be anything you want it to be. The domes can be connected like Lego, so you could create an amazing home of different sized domes!
Frequent uses include:
- A village like eCALA Life
- A conference or event venue
- A classroom
- A garden room
- A playroom
- A therapy studio
- A yoga / pilates studio
- A theatre (think amphitheatre)
If you like this blog and want more information about geodesic domes please contact us or our friends Joost and Jan at www.domeseurope.com who will delighted to help you!
Please feel free to share this and please post any comments below, we would love to hear from you.