Invented by Carl Ziess In 1922, the Geo-dome was first used as a planetarium located on the top of a building. The work of Buckminster Fuller, formalised the structural and mathematical understanding of the geodesic domes.
The inherent strength in the form and the feather weight construction can allows for a geodesic dome to negotiate vast distances without need of vertical support. The 60’s counter culture movement attached to the idea of the geodesic dome as a high tech future solution to housing and life style. The form was adopted for various purposes. Large domes could accommodate whole communities. Smaller ones would be suitable for single or family dwellings, and the shape could be stretched and squashed to the desired form, using algorithms and different equations to measure radii and strut lengths. The result, the practicable and adaptable geo-dome.
But just how practical is the geodesic dome? As an idea it works great. As a light weight structure its form is ideal for travelling tents and large circus spaces. The struts can be packed up in the back of a van or truck and the structure can be erected anywhere where flat ground permits. However the practicality of building a permanent home in this form is limited to the skill and ability to negotiate the complex geometry of a dome. The “corners” have up to 6 plates of materials meeting at one point. This makes it difficult to waterproof or clad the dome, and materials that come out of factories rarely come in triangular form. In larger domes, sound travels around the roof-scape and limits the privacy within a home. The dome is an astonishing structure. The round space resonates with the ancient ways of the roundhouse, yet the hexa-penta icosahedron form, is a potent symbol of 20th centaury architecture. Many eco-dwellers and dome wizards still praise the dome. You can find it as a den covered with straw bales, or behaving as an enormous greenhouse. It is here to stay, yet it is by no means the solution, simply a geometric tool that can be adapted and manipulated for many purposes.