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Geodesic Dome

Updated on October 12, 2009

What's A Geodesic Dome?

So what is a geodesic dome, well they usually look like a dome or a sphere which is made from triangles, like the Montreal biosphere or the most famous dome in the world the one in the Epcot Centre at Disney world, though that isn’t actually a dome which is a hemisphere, but a sphere.

One of the amazing things about a geodesic dome is that the larger it is the stronger it gets. It’s the only form of structure which can cover huge areas of ground without internal pillars or supports. The one in the Epcot Centre contains 2,200,000 cubic feet of space inside a globe that is 165 feet in diameter. The outer surface is made up of 954 triangular sections. Domes are exceptionally strong some have even withstood hurricane conditions.

Geodesic dome terrarium in "tiffany Style" stained glass construction.
Geodesic dome terrarium in "tiffany Style" stained glass construction.

R Buckminster Fuller

The concept was invented by Richard Buckminster fuller a visionary who coined the phrase “Spaceship Earth” a largely self taught designer/engineer. As a child Buckminster Fuller had a natural aptitude for building things often with materials he bought home from the woods. Twice thrown out of Harvard (once for excessive partying) he served in the navy in the First World War and later received an S cD from Bates College in Maine. During his early adult life he worked in a variety of jobs including mechanic in a textile mill and as a labourer in the meat packing industry.

A failed business venture in 1922 after he left the navy led to his personal bankruptcy, following this period while Buckminster fuller was jobless and living in poor housing conditions his 4 year old daughter Alexandra died believing the poor living conditions to be responsible for the death, Buckminster Fuller set his mind to solving such social problems as the need for good housing at affordable cost.

Buckminster fuller Patents Geodesic Dome

Buckminster Fuller became famous in the 1940s following the patenting of the Geodesic Dome. Even today they still look futuristic, in spite of having been around so long and the basic idea being used in everything from green houses to some modern camping tents. Geodesic domes were seized on as an idea for housing by some of the hippies of the sixties, who used in some instances, the flat sheet metal salvaged from the roofs of scrap cars to build geodesic dome homes in the desert.

Geodesic Domes-Still Awe Inspiring Today

One of the amazing things about a geodesic dome is that the larger it is the stronger it gets. It’s the only form of structure which can cover huge areas of ground without internal pillars or supports.

Today there are Geodesic Domes in use all over the world as greenhouses, storage facilities and homes. There are some wonderful examples of homes, but you have to accept that “normal” furniture is unlikely to fit in your dome so be prepared to start a whole new way of life. If you’re interested in domes there are many sites on the Internet full of information and even instructions for building a variety of domes starting with cardboard models. I was crazy enough to build a geodesic dome terrarium fro stained glass, not the easiest project and definitely a labor of love.


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  • profile image

    Patrice Walker 8 years ago

    I remember geodesic domes from the 90s, a pretty intense period of New Age exploration for me and many others. People were building them to live in. What an interesting, thought-provoking hub!

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

    The terrarium is very nice. When I saw "Geodesic Dome" I couldn't resist looking at your Hub; because one Geodesic Dome and I go back a long way. Years and years ago, my husband made one out of "Popsicle sticks" (I'd bought for the kids at a craft department.) He just got "inspired" to build the dome, and soon there was the dome. The problem was, what to do with the dome once it was built. A lot of work went into it. So, the dome was eventually carefully placed in a safe place on a top closet shelf; and every time we moved we always had to make sure the fragile dome was safe. I can't say I was thrilled to be responsible for a Popsicle-stick dome for all those years; and it was always a problem in whatever closet it "lived" (once a Popsicle-stick dome is built there's really no use for it).

    Anyway, I enjoyed your Hub and couldn't resist making some use of that Popsicle-stick dome by sharing the story, 30 years after it was built. (Yes, it's still around. :) )

  • GeneralHowitzer profile image

    Gener Geminiano 8 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

    This is a HubNugget Wannabe material, pretty interesting, love this hub... thanks for sharing and good luck...

  • Aqua profile image

    Aqua 8 years ago from California

    Wow! Great job on the geodesic terrarium - it's really beautiful. I always wondered why the dome houses weren't more popular. Maybe because they're just too different for most people.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    Hi Kev, I was struck by this statement, "One of the amazing things about a geodesic dome is that the larger it is the stronger it gets. It’s the only form of structure which can cover huge areas of ground without internal pillars or supports." Amazing how humans are able to create such things. Your comment had me wondering what it's like to live in a dome house too LOL

    Congratulations for being a Hubnugget Wannabe!!! Wooohooo. What's that? Check this link and you will see what it is all about:

    Vote, vote and vote. Enjoy the dome and the Hubnuggets!

    -Ripplemaker and the Hubnuggets Team

  • KevCC profile image

    KevCC 8 years ago

    Thanks for the comments, I've always been fascinated by them, I wouldn't mind living in a dome house. Not sure my wife is too keen though.

  • Dame Scribe profile image

    Dame Scribe 8 years ago from Canada

    Definitely a man ahead of his time, wow. They are very cool lookin too, lol. Great Hub! :)

  • profile image

    ralwus 8 years ago

    Quite an amazing invention.