|4) The “Why” of Geodesic Domes!
|"The fundamental idea behind the geodesic
dome is to do more with less; to enclose a large
space with a small quantity of materials."
-- Mark Ludwig, Dome Designer
|“One of the greatest engineering and architectural forms ever invented. Ask any
engineer or architect!” --Good Karma Domes
|“A dome is the safest, strongest and most energy efficient building. It takes less
building materials to enclose usable living or working area in a dome than any other
shaped structure.” -- Blair Wolfram, “The Dome Guy”
|“… [as of the 1930’s] the so-called building “industry” was already 2,000 years
behind the arts of building ships of the sea and sky.”
------ R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path, Page 90
“You never change things by fighting the
existing reality. To change something, build a
new model that makes the existing model
obsolete.” R. Buckminster Fuller
"The Geodesic Dome is, simply stated, the
strongest, lightest and most efficient means of
enclosing space yet devised.” -- The American
Institute of Architects
The Geodesic Dome is an engineered structure which encloses space more efficiently than any other
structure: the maximum amount of space is enclosed with a minimum of surface area and materials.
That statement is a geometric fact. When constructing a Geodesic Dome, we are not buying and
installing expensive materials for the purpose of supporting other expensive materials! A dome is self-
supporting! The Geodesic Dome has 38% less surface area than a rectilinear structure of the same
square footage and about that savings in materials as well, if the claims are accurate.
To the degree that contemporary construction deviates from the ideal geometry/structure of a dome,
we are decreasing enclose-able space and utilizing ever more materials and cost to bring about the
loss and inefficiency. This is the importance of deferring to engineering. Engineering and science are
driving the new paradigm; what Fuller referred to as the Design Science revolution: How to do more
No other structure can match the qualities of the Geodesic Dome for strength, efficiency and
structural integrity. According to the University of Minnesota’s Underground Space Center, the
immense strength of the Geodesic Dome makes it ideal for earth-sheltering.
Despite these facts, domes are hugely under-utilized. "Conventional" homes are not based on
engineering but on tradition; approaches of old which, with the passage of time, have outlived their
usefulness in very significant ways. This is a polite way of saying that scientific progress in the field of
design --- Design Science --- renders contemporary home designs obsolete! Perhaps homeowners are
ready to exit the obsolete paradigm and if our e-mail is any indication, they are: "Geodesic domes are
coming back. These spherical structures are in growing demand throughout the United States,
Canada, and in Asia, western Europe, and the Middle East. The staggering cost of energy -- both in
economic and environmental terms -- is forcing individuals and nations to look for ways to minimize
their consumption. Energy efficiency is the main reason for the renewed interest in geodesic domes."
"We're seeing the beginnings of a new interest in domes," says Cynthia Kerstiens, executive editor of
Dome. "They fit the 'do more with less' mentality of today."
The obsolete paradigm…where we have come from!
The obsolete building paradigm held that utilities and materials, labor and land are both abundant
cheap. You'd have to go back a long time for these assumptions to be factual; that's how worn-out
and overdue for change the obsolete paradigm is. The obsolete paradigm never went so far as to
make considerations of sustain-ability or a single home's energy needs/costs over the next century or
impact on the environment, much less the overall needs and impact of 10's of millions of same-styled
homes. But old, ingrained ideas are die-hards. This is evidenced, right up until very recently by our
country-sides continuing to sprout rectilinear behemoths, (i.e. the so-called "McMansions"); each one
of them, by their very structure and design, carry an open-ended energy cost/commitment attached
to them into the future and for as long as they stand.
The obsolete paradigm became obsolete for its failure to recognize and implement advances in
technology that would allow us more advantage over the conditions that we face. The consequences
are that we are now at an extreme disadvantage to the forces we face for successful living. The
equation of the paradigm over time is that the advantages lessen and the disadvantages increase,
eventually forcing something characteristically new and different to emerge. This is called a
"paradigm shift". With the uncertainty of utility costs, the possibility of no available energy scenarios
and the certainty of weather extremes every year, is the implementation of the new construction
paradigm not long overdue?
These facts, among others, make the Geodesic Dome an informedchoice!