A geodesic dome is a type of structure shaped like half of a sphere or a ball. Think of a soap bubble on the surface of water. This structure is comprised of a complex network of triangles that form a roughly spherical surface.
The more complex the network of triangles, the more closely the dome approximates the shape of a true sphere.
Geodesic domes fall into different categories based on various factors. Dome calculators can be found here – Geodesic dome notes and caclulator. Calculators like this can be quite beneficial to you in the planning and building of your own geodesic structure.
There are many benefits of geodesic buildings.
Geodesic structures save on building materials
A 2184 square foot geodesic dome will use 1838 board feet of lumber to create the frame (the dome itself). It takes 1648 board feet just to create the walls of a 50×50 traditional house or building, which does not include the roof.
Geodesic structures conserve energy for heating and cooling
Geodesic domes will save 60% to 75% of energy costs compared to conventional buildings. The energy savings will pay for the building in total in less than 20 years. And in most cases, they save money on the initial cost of construction.
Domes meet higher wind and snow load rating requirements
Geodesic structures are very strong due to their shape and can withstand earthquakes and severe storms.
Monolithic is one company specializing in dome-shaped structures. Their technology meets FEMA criteria for a structure that can provide near-absolute disaster protection. They have survived tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, most manmade disasters, fire, termites, and rot.
Less equipment needed to build
The tools you need to build a dome really depend on the type being created, but in most cases socket wrenches, hammers, ladders, and rolling scaffolding are desirable and nail guns for attaching the roofing shingles.
Domes are completely free-standing during construction. No shoring up is needed. No special tools or expensive equipment, like cranes or forklifts, are necessary to assemble most domes. Depending on the purpose of the dome, there are several types of connectors for building.
Variety of roofing options
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material for a geodesic dome as they are easy to work with and attractive. They come in a variety of colors and textures and are affordable.
Other options include wood shingles, metal shingles, and spray on roofs such as concrete in a Monolithic Dome. Glass roofs are also common on some domes.
Geodesic domes make awesome greenhouses
Geodesic greenhouses are becoming an increasingly popular way of self-sustainable green living, competing with traditional greenhouses for performance and strength.
A sphere-like dome greenhouse offers several advantages over regular greenhouses. For a start, the plants within will be better insulated and less affected by temperature fluctuations, guaranteeing a more even average temperature all year round.
Downsides to geodesic domes
There are problems with moisture and dampness in a tightly sealed house, and domes are no exception. Moisture will accumulate inside as a result of washing, cooking, showers, and transmission of vapor through the walls and conduction of damp air into the house through gaps.
With air conditioning, the moisture level will be controlled because the air conditioner extracts the moisture and condenses it at the evaporator coil. When the house is being heated, the moisture level will be controlled by the fact that as air is heated, its relative humidity decreases.
Opening a vent at the top of the dome’s cupola during warmer weather will supply ventilation to dry the air or briefly running the air conditioner can control the moisture.