Robert Buckminister Fuller or simply Bucky drew inspiration from nature to come up with an alternative to conventional housing that was incredibly much stronger. Driven by his desire to improve housing for humanity and his profound knowledge in energetic-synergetic geometry, he was able to invent geodesic domes. Geodesic domes have several advantages when compared to conventional housing structures. They include affordability, ease of assembly, energy efficiency, versatility, strength and sustainability. In this article, we shall narrow down on the strength of geodesic domes.
Dome structures have been in existence from time immemorial in the human world. Ancient Romans built magnanimous dome structures such as The Pantheon, The Apse and The Madonna Di Campagna that utilized the inherent strength of arch shapes. These domes however, were very heavy and prone to falling at a moment's notice. They were built with massive walls to keep them from falling.
Geodesic Domes on the other hand not only utilize the inherent strength of arch shapes but also have triangular rigidity makes them very strong and resistant to falling or crushing. This breakthrough was first made by Walter Bauersfeld in 1926 but was intensely publicized by the eccentric Bucky some two decades afterwards.
While coming up with the mathematics and geometry of geodesic domes, Bucky drew inspiration from nature. The shell of an egg is very light and brittle. It is however very strong when it is in the shape of an egg. A box on the other hand is made of relatively heavier and stronger material. In the shape of a box however, it succumbs to distortion easily in the face of compression forces.
The shape of a triangle makes it very strong and able to withstand heavy loads. Indeed triangles are the strongest of all shapes known to man. Box structures, which are the typical conventional homes, on the other hand are easily distorted by heavy loads. When many triangles are connected to form the shell of a dome, they translate to tremendous strength which makes them self supporting. This in turn eliminates the need for supporting structures. The tremendous strength is as a result of triangles distributing strength evenly across the entire structure. Rectangular or box structures for that matter distribute loads at right angles making them considerably weaker.
Most people find it incredulous to fathom the structural integrity of geodesic domes. This is especially because the materials used to make geodesic domes are significantly light. That is why they have very large strength to weight ratios. Any stress applied to a geodesic dome will be distributed evenly across it. This includes stress from tornados, earthquakes and snow loading. Their strength in turn increases as the size of the structure increases. This means that they get stronger as they get bigger!
Despite the incredible strength of geodesic domes, many people fail to appreciate them. Bucky envisioned a world devoid of housing problems. People need to wrestle from the shackles of the obsolete building paradigm and adopt geodesic domes.