Why Domes? Can Geodesic Architecture Create a Sustainable Future?

Because of its aerodynamic structure, the geodesic dome is built to withstand Nature’s extremes.” — Pacific Domes, Inc.

Geodesic design can be found everywhere in Nature, but why and when should you consider using geodesic dome architecture vs. conventional building methods? Starting with the basic structure, did you know that geodesic domes are 5 times stronger than a rectangular house?

Did you know that geodesic domes are virtually disaster-proof and can survive earthquakes and hurricanes? But wait, there’s more…

geodesic dome architecture
20′ shelter domes in the Swiss Alps

Geodesic Domes for a Sustainable Ecoliving Future

As shelters, domes have gained world-wide popularity in non-traditional housing markets, such as, eco-tourism, glamping and relief efforts.   They have had a huge impact in other markets, as well.  Due to their portability, economical building costs and sustainability, ecoliving domes solve many ecologic and economic challenges that traditional building methods, materials don’t address.

Domes are suited to all types of terrains; are fully deployable and can be erected in hours with simple hand ratcheting tools.  Because they are considered temporary shelters, in that they can be taken down when no longer needed, this often simplifies or bypasses building codes.

The spacious dome interior offers limitless possibilities for creativity.  Its circular design encloses the greatest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area.

Concepts Behind Geodesic Dome Architecture

As per the Buckminster Fuller Institute, geodesic domes are the strongest, lightest and most efficient structure yet known to man. Buckminster ‘Bucky’ Fuller, father of the modern geodesic dome, received many awards throughout his life-long career; and, the American Institute of Architects awarded him the Gold Medal in 1970 for inventing the strongest structure known to man.

  • ‘Bucky’ Fuller demonstrated the difference in strength between a rectangle and a triangle by applying pressure to both structures.  The triangle proved to be twice as strong and remained rigid while the unstable rectangle collapsed.
  • Fuller, also discovered that a sphere created from triangles, had unparalleled strength.  This led to the “doing more with less” principle and the geodesic dome.
  • Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the dome’s diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times its volume.  A dome encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area, thus saving on materials and cost.

Domes Are Energy Efficient Shelters, Too!

Geodesic dome shelters have been built all around the world in various climates, proving to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.  A dome’s structure is one of the most efficient interior spaces because air and energy circulate without obstruction.  This enables natural heating and cooling.

Specifically, a dome is energy efficient for the following reasons:

  • Its decreased surface area requires less building materials
  • Exposure to cold in winter and heat in summer is decreased, due to less surface area per unit of volume.
  • The concave interior creates a natural airflow allowing hot or cool air to flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air ducts.
  • Extreme wind turbulence is lessened because winds contributing to heat loss flow evenly around the dome.
  • It acts like a giant downward reflector that concentrates interior heat, preventing radiant heat loss.
  • Dome studies, comparing same-size traditional homes, have shown a 30% energy savings.
geodesic dome architecture
20′ Shelter Dome

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