Life and Times

The Life and Times of Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome

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Buckminster Fuller wore many hats: he was an architect, designer, inventor, futurist and a lot more. Published more than thirty books and developed many inventions and designs of architecture. He popularized the Geodesic Dome. He is known to have served as the President of Mensa- the Largest high IQ society in the world.

Geodesic Dome

The Geodesic Dome was first designed by Walther Bauersfeld for a planetarium. Years later, Buckminster was the one that coined the term ‘Geodesic’. Although he did not invent it, since he was the one that popularized the idea, he received praise and patent. He built the world’s oldest surviving dome in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Materials for the construction of the Dome

The dome fascinated Fuller, as it was very strong for its weight. The triangularly symmetrical design of the dome provided the dome with a stable structure. The architects have used many different combinations of materials to construct the Geodesic dome. The hub and strut type of dome was made with wooden struts. The triangular plywood pieces are nailed to the struts, and steel hubs are used to put these hubs together. By stapling plastic sheets together, the making of make-shift greenhouse domes was possible. Steel framework can be used to construct domes for jungle gyms. The lightweight aluminium framework is also used to construct domes.

The concept


Buckminster believed that a triangular usage for a structure would be better than using a rectangle. He said that the rectangle would not be able to withstand the pressure, whereas the triangle is much more rigid. His ideas were to do more with less, and this led to creating a spherical structure with triangles and resulted in the dome with unparalleled strength.

Sense of the structure

The idea enabled to having a spacious interior space and lesser surface area. This way, they could cut down construction costs and save a lot of money. The dome created a very coherent atmosphere for the interiors as it allowed circulation of air and light without an obstruction. The airflow is even throughout the dome. It is designed to withstand extreme temperatures and high winds too.

Sense of the structure

Buckminster Fuller’s contribution

In 1954, Fuller displayed his cardboard dome for the first time and received acceptance by the architectural community. Fuller aimed to utilize the earth’s finite resources to benefit humankind, but at the same time, he did not want to disrupt the ecosystem either. It gained popularity, and the Us military also was looking into using the Domes for their military projects. Thanks to Buckminster Fuller, the Geodesic Dome received the attention and exposure it deserved. He again reinvented the Dome by increasing the diameter, so the volume of the dome also increased. The Geodesic Dome ideas have influenced many structures of the day.

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