Monday, 13 June 2011

Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome

The Concepts Behind the Dome

One of the ways Buckminster Fullerwould describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid--in fact the triangle is twice as strong. This principle directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of "doing more with less." Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.

The sphere uses the "doing more with less" principle in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area thus saving on materials and cost. Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the sphere's diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times the volume.

The spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling to occur naturally. Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.

More specifically, the dome is energy efficient for many reasons:

  • Its decreased surface area requires less building materials.
  • Exposure to cold in the winter and heat in the summer is decreased because, being spherical, there is the least surface area per unity of volume per structure.
  • The concave interior creates a natural airflow that allows the hot or cool air to flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air ducts.
  • Extreme wind turbulence is lessened because the winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around the dome.
  • It acts like a type of giant down-pointing headlight reflector and reflects and concentrates interior heat. This helps prevent radiant heat loss.

The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co. This is quite an improvement and helps save the environment from wasted energy. Domes have been designed by Bucky and others to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures as seen in the Polar regions.

Many dome manufacturers on the list in this section offer various designs in geodesic dome housing with little assembly time required. Some houses can be assembled in less than a day with others taking up to six months. Many also come in dome kits that you can build yourself or with the help of friends. The options are many. It all depends on how complex you want the design to be. Please feel free to contact them for more information.


An example of the domes design when applied to a domestic setting.

Below are various geodesic dome applied to industrial structures, such as telescopes, gardens, multplexes et al.







The film 'Silent Running' utilises the domes as a way to preserve and cultivate nature in the future aboard spaceships. This is an example the the ideas of utopia and distopia blur.





The dome is a representation of Buckminster Fuller's concept of Synergy.

Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced and began to formulate. Synergetics is multi-faceted: it involves geometric modeling, exploring inter-relationships in the facts of experience and the process of thinking. Synergetics endeavors to identify and understand the methods that Nature actually uses in coordinating Universe (both physically and metaphysically). Synergetics provides a method and a philosophy for problem-solving and design and therefore has applications in all areas of human endeavor.

Synergetics is the empirical study of systems in transformation, with an emphasis on total system behavior unpredicted by the behavior of any isolated components, including humanity’s role as both participant and observer. Since systems are identifiable at every scale from the quantum level to the cosmic, and humanity both articulates the behavior of these systems and is composed of these systems, synergetics is a very broad discipline, and embraces a broad range of scientific and philosophical studies including tetrahedral and close-packed-sphere geometries, thermodynamics, chemistry, psychology, biochemistry, economics, philosophy and theology. Despite a few mainstream endorsements such as articles by Arthur Loeb and the naming of a molecule “buckminsterfullerene,” synergetics remains an iconoclastic subject ignored by most traditional curricula and academic departments.

Several authors have tried to characterize the importance of Synergetics. Amy Edmonson asserts that "Experience with synergetics encourages a new way of approaching and solving problems. Its emphasis on visual and spatial phenomena combined with Fuller's holistic approach fosters the kind of lateral thinking which so often leads to creative breakthroughs."[9]. Cheryl Clark points out that "In his thousands of lectures, Fuller urged his audiences to study synergetics, saying `I am confident that humanity's survival depends on all of our willingness to comprehend feelingly the way nature works.

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