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Geodesic Dome


Mon, April 10, 2006: Added some thoughts on pro and contra geodesic dome .

Mon, August 15, 2005: First version with links, and separated infos to Geodesic Dome Notes .

My 6.33m 4V Geodesic Bamboo Dome Skeleton (2007)
In 1922 Dr. Walther Bauersfeld developed a geodesic dome for Carl Zeiss in Jena Germany, he may be considered as the "inventor" of the geodesic dome.

R. Buckminster Fuller then popularized in the 1960's the geodesic domes, gave it this name (from geodesy "surveying", greek geodaisia "division of the earth", geo "earth, land" + daiein "divide"), and received several patents for it. Since then a lot of parties have implemented his concepts further, and provide do-it-yourself kits even to build large living spaces.

Some hesitation I have to consider this structure because it looks challenging, on the first sight it's beautiful, yet, the lengths of the struts need to be exact, and you have a lot of connectors, and seams therefore where it can leak rain, so insulation around those connectors is important.

My Geodesic Dome Notes, Diary & Studies

In my notes I solved some of the calculation challenges, and are still checking which cover technique to use for the dome:

4V Model

  • Geodesic Dome Notes, very comprehensive overview of polyhedral domes
    1. Introduction of Ln notion & concacted nV notion
    2. Overview of variants with charts to compare
    3. Icosahedron-based domes (1V/L1 - 8V/L4)
    4. Octahedron-based domes (1V/L1 - 10V)
    5. Cube-based domes (1V/L1 - 8V/L4)
    6. Cuboctahedron-based domes (1V/L1 - 6V)
    7. Truncated Octahedron-based domes (1V - 4V/L3)
    8. Rhombicuboctahedron-based domes (1V - 3V)
    9. and for each of the 67 variants a dedicated dome/strut calculator
    10. Model building: 2V, 3V and 4V Icosahedron-based domes
    11. Real life application tips (connectors, separate function, cover)

  • Geodesic Dome Diary, my diary building a full scale 6.4m diameter 4V 4/8 geodesic dome
    • just started with tests, and cutting struts
    • first erection of the skeleton

  • Geodesic Polyhedra, comprehensive study & overview of platonic & archimedean solids triangulated and spherized (geodesized)

  • Polyhedra Notes, study & overview of platonic, archimedean, johnson solids, uniform polyhedra and waterman polyhedra - the base information creating geodesic approaches

How To Manuals

Pro & Contra

My first reaction on the geodesic dome was of excitement to see such a construction form a half-sphere, though the smaller sub-division versions (like 2V) looked too edgy for my taste as I am more interested in round, smooth and circular forms. I realized, as mentioned above in the intro already, the many struts create many junctions and seams, and talking with geodesic enthusiasts increased my enthusiams but also increased my skepticism about the form, it remains a challenging structure to be built and extended to a living space.

I've got a copy of "Shelter", written by Lloyd Khan author of "Domebook 1 & 2", where the 3rd volume was also published. He turned from a Pro to a complete Contra, mainly realizing the difficulties to really make it work in real life applications. Although I tend to agree with some of the arguments, but not all of them, see Refried Domes .

The difficulty to build a circular or spherical form should not be mistaken with the geodesic dome challenges altogether: Circular, spherical, or dome-like forms require more planning, and tend to create more waste; but this is a result of a "rectangular" thinking and producing with such mindset the parts, entire nature does not create such rectangular forms, only humans do. Therefore it requires also more consideration, and a change of mindset in order to think differently to economically build a spherical habitat, see also the other domes approaches:

Lloyd quickly replied to my query that majority of his arguments in Domes / Rectangles apply to polyhedral domes but not to domes (e.g. with bows) in general.



Commercial Suppliers


A couple of patents relating to geodesic dome I found via Google Patents , sorted by published year:

Buckminster Fuller

"Geodesic Dome" is a term which is closely tied also to "Buckminster Fuller", an inventor who popularized this approach, among many things he focused his work to make the world a better place for everyone:

I personally wasn't able to really connect with Fuller's original work, e.g. Synergetics makes no sense to me, and consider one of most unreadable books I ever encountered. Other people could make some sense out of it and got inspired to follow up:



  • "Domebook 1 & 2" by Lloyd Khan , no longer published, used books surely available
    Haven't had a chance to get a copy of them myself, but it's the 'classic' book on geodesic domes; "Domebook 3" (part of "Shelter", a book also by him) he is no longer in favour of geodesic approach, and partially on domes in general


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