They don't meet earthquake standards or earth subsidence/movement
concerns in most places, as a result they aren't that popular with builders
or insurers. It's another fad in building design that when it first
came in everyone thought it was real cool, then when they started
spending money on putting the things up, a few years later on they
realized they wern't that great.
The strength of the dome is entirely dependent on the rigidity of
the base. For a large dome you need a large concrete slab, which
is either going to crack, or to prevent it from cracking you have
to put in expansion joints so that the cracking occurs on a controlled
boundary. In an earthquake the expansion faults or cracks in concrete can
serve as hinges and as soon as the base flexes, the dome will collapse.
Also, for large domes it's really difficult to replace glass panels
unless you scaffold from the inside, which of course defeats the
purpose of having a large area without supporting posts in it.
I grew up visiting the Mitchell Park domes (which arent geodesic)
and have always been interested in domes.
The early domes were not geodesic, but share many characteristics. Perhaps the
earthquake resistant structure on earth is the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Istanbul
a huge domed Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque. at least some people
building earthquake resistant domes after earthquakes have destroyed existing
The strength of the dome shape is the redistribution of force along the entire
structure which reduces stress at any one point.
The early years of Buckminster Fuller geodesic domes coincided with the "Whole
movement and many domes were constructed by people unskilled in any kind of
construction, using materials that were "scrounged". Like other "tar paper
construction, these fell apart.
Geodesic domes were not originally built using cement. They used steel or wood.
Domes do not need large concrete slabs, they need concrete footings like any
building. In many places treated wood is used for the foundation and basement
What is most important is getting the angles cut correctly so most people doing
construction buy the "kit" from a dome builder. Once the footings, the first
is in, a wooden dome typically goes up in one day (the sections are prebuilt)
ratchets to bolt the pieces together.
Domes that are now built are typically for commercial uses. But dome homes are
usually pretty high end. People who own them love them and they arent usually
sale. I have been on a "dome tour" up in Minnesota.
Here is a site I randomly found http://www.gardendome.com/ for greenhouse domes
Here is a site lists some domes for sale across the US
There are all kinds of domes, and the more math loving get off on talking about
math of various domes. I just like domes, would like to live in a dome but it is
unlikely since I like living in the city. ah well. Ingrid
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