When you hear the words “geodesic dome,” there is a good chance you will instantly picture Spaceship Earth at Epcot. But did you know that you can live under a geodesic dome? In this post, we will introduce you to the history and benefits of geodesic dome design. We will also point you toward some manufacturers who can help you build your very own geodesic dome dream home.
What is a Geodesic Dome Home?
A geodesic dome home is simply a house where all or part of the structure takes the form of a geodesic dome.
Okay, great—but what is a geodesic dome? It is simply a dome (sometimes more like a sphere) that consists of many triangular planes joined together in a regular pattern. For our interest, we were drawn to these thanks to the metal structure frame.
History of Geodesic Domes
It was German engineer Walther Bauersfeld who first created the geodesic dome with the goal of building a planetarium. But most people associate the concept of the geodesic dome with American architect Buckminster Fuller.
Indeed, it was Fuller who came up with the word “geodesic,” and it was he who popularized the idea of geodesic dome homes in the US. He even came up with an idea for a mass production geodesic dome home called the Dymaxion House.
Geodesic domes reached the height of their popularity during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Despite the fact that their heyday is behind us (at least for now), they remain a style well worth considering for your own home today.
What are the Benefits of Dome Homes?
Here are a few reasons to consider a geodesic dome home:
- Structural stability: The triangle is a rigid, stable structure. This is why you see them so often in bridge construction. Geodesic domes are comprised of numerous triangles, so the entire frame of this type of home is incredibly stable. Plus, wind is more easily able to get around the dome shape than a rectangular structure. For these reasons, the geodesic dome is a great design for withstanding strong winds, earthquakes, etc.
- Longevity: With their stability and durability, geodesic dome homes can stand strong for many decades. This is especially true if the dome structure is built out of a sturdy material like steel.
- Resource-efficient: If you are comparing a geodesic dome with a box that contains the same volume, the geodesic dome will have a smaller surface area. That means that fewer materials are needed to provide the same space capacity.
- Wide open interiors: If you enjoy open layouts, especially incorporating a lot of vertical space, you will love the spacious, airy interior of a geodesic dome home.
- Excellent air circulation: Air can circulate freely through the interior of a geodesic dome home.
- Temperate and energy-efficient: Excellent insulation and air circulation coupled with a low surface area result in great energy-efficiency inside a geodesic dome home. You can cut costs on heating and cooling, and maintain more comfortable temperatures than might be possible otherwise.
- Simple construction: You will be amazed by the ease and speed with which you can construct a geodesic dome home using a prefab kit—even if you have a relatively small work crew. In fact, a skilled DIYer may not even need to contract out.
- Aesthetic appeal: Geodesic domes make us think of the past and the future simultaneously. They are nostalgic throwbacks to the mid century period, but they also inspire us to envision the world of tomorrow. It is hard to beat their fun aesthetic appeal.
Dome homes clearly boast many advantages. But are there any drawbacks you should be aware of?
There are some potential issues to be aware of.
For example, if you wanted to build a geodesic dome home using supplies you buy locally, you would need to cut rectangles into triangles, which would generate waste.
Also, these homes sometimes have issues with leaking. But you can eliminate both of these problems by purchasing a quality prefab kit and working with an expert construction crew.
The open floor plans of geodesic dome homes can be a bit too open for some people as well. The air circulation increases the chances of sound, light and smells carrying even with partitions separating rooms.
So, you will need to weigh the pros and cons, and figure out whether a geodesic metal dome home will be right for your needs.
Geodesic Dome Builders
Pacific Domes has been in the geodesic dome-building business since 1980. With decades of experience, this company has the expertise to help you build a beautiful, eco-friendly, strong home.
A green-minded company, Pacific Domes writes, “At Pacific Domes, we inspire the world to live simply, sustainably, and peacefully. Our domes model harmonious coexistence with the earth and ourselves.”
This company offers dome homes in a range of sizes. The smallest is 16 ft/5 m, and the largest is 44 ft/13 m.
The homes are incredibly fast and easy to assemble; a crew of 4 can put the largest kit together in just 10 to 18 hours. The smallest kit can be assembled by a crew of 2-4 people in just 2-6 hours.
When you order a kit from this company, you will receive the galvanized steel frame, hardware, zip door, windows, shelter cover for bay window, and ventilation roll-up with zipper. A complete assembly manual and instructions for dome care come with your purchase.
There are also advanced options available for customization. For instance, you can opt for round doors, pre-hung doors, or extra doors.
Best for: The simplicity of Pacific Domes homes and the ease and speed of construction make them an excellent overall option.
Monolithic Dome Institute
Our next recommendation is the Texas-based Monolithic Dome Institute. This company’s history dates back to the 1970s.
The company writes, “Flexibility is the key idea behind our home designs. The interior of your Monolithic Dome home can be partitioned into rooms or areas that fit your needs and wants … Because a Monolithic Dome is so well built and insulated, your home will be energy-efficient, disaster-proof, virtually maintenance free, durable and cost-efficient.”
The flexibility of Monolithic Dome Institute starts with their huge selection of floor plans. At the time of this writing, the company offers 18 series, each with multiple plans. You can sort through them by square footage or number of bedrooms. There are also selections of multi-level designs.
If you want a small home, there are a number of floor plans under 1,100 square feet. In fact, the smallest of these are just 314 square feet. So, this is the place to shop if you want a geodesic dome tiny house.
There are also Monolithic dome homes floor plans ranging between 1,101 square feet and 2,000 square feet, between 2,001 square feet and 3,000 square feet, and 3,001 square feet and above. The largest floor plan is 11,644 square feet.
After you purchase a floor plan from Monolithic, you can reach out to one of the contractors the company recommends. Alternately, constructing the home yourself is an option.
Best for: Consider Monolithic Dome Institute if you are looking for a large, flexible assortment of plans to choose from.
For a home that can take what nature throws at it, it is hard to beat a prefab dome house from AiDomes.
The company explains, “Cement is 100% better than building with lumber, and not as expensive as you might think. Due to aerodynamic shape & steel reinforced fiber concrete exterior, the Aidome has proved its strength & fire resistance.”
Plans for these concrete and steel geodesic dome homes start at 15 feet and range as high as 40 feet. There are one and two story plans available.
Best for: If you are looking for a quick and affordable way to build a steel-reinforced concrete geodesic dome home, AiDomes has you covered.
Thanks to the steel frames, Geodesic dome homes feature incredible structural stability, energy efficiency, and streamlined assembly.
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