R. Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome Design

R. Buckminster Fuller's patented geodesic dome plans and instructions can be used to build a 30-foot greenhouse or pool cover.

| July/August 1970

  • Geodesic dome
    A geodesic dome design used for a botanical garden.
    Photo by Fotolia/Mitch Aunger
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    Building a dome home: The secrets of a Buckminster Fuller-style 16-1/2 foot, 25-foot and 30-foot dome.
    Photo courtesy Popular Science
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    Smaller dome is used as a greenhouse. Hinged panels make the doorway and the vents. The dome has weathered two seasons of windstorms and heavy snows without damage.
    Photo courtesy Popular Science

  • Geodesic dome
  • 004-056-01_01
  • 004-057-01b

Reprinted courtesy of Popular Science Monthly.

Can't wait until spring warms up enough for you to break out the swimming pool? Reluctant to close it in the fall when the air starts getting chilly? Here's a perfect solution: a plastic-covered sun dome over your pool. R. Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome design makes it simple to build a 30-foot dome. It's the cheapest, simplest way to extend your summer activities. You'll be able to swim nine months of the year in most locations; all year, with extra heat. And you can build one for as little as 60 dollars.

On a sunny day, the temperature inside the dome is 20 to 30 degrees warmer than outside. And the heat's free; it comes from trapped solar heat, the same way as in a greenhouse. With a pool, the water will absorb heat from the sun during the day and give it off at night. This keeps it 10 to 15 degrees warmer inside the dome for swims at night and on cloudy days. A pool- or space-heater makes it still warmer.

But the benefits of an expanded summer aren't limited to pools. With a sun dome, you can start your outdoor barbecues earlier and continue them later in the season. As a greenhouse, it lets you grow colorful flowers the year round, or start tomato and other plants early. It's a fine outdoor winter playroom for the kids: There's room for a Ping-Pong table, picnic table, chairs.

Cover the dome with screening and it's a screenhouse. Put this over your pool, or over your picnic table and charcoal grill, and the delights of a summer's evening outdoors won't be spoiled by mosquitoes and other things that fly in the night.

The principle that gives this dome (called a geodesic dome) its remarkable strength was discovered by R. Buckminster Fuller. It's a patented design of interlocking tetrahedrons and icosahedrons that distributes forces evenly throughout the entire framework so that tension and compression forces are balanced. You could say that mathematics holds it up. That's why you can build it with slim sticks and plastic film.

2/10/2011 9:04:22 PM

My neighbors house was a deliberate act of arson. He is trying to live in a tiny camper. We have lots of lumber and would like to build him a permanent geodosic home. Is there anyone out there that would be willing to share plans. Judy

Troy Griepentrog_1
1/18/2010 3:59:27 PM

Sorry, plans are no longer available.

1/15/2010 11:28:58 PM

I would like to build the 25' geodesic dome and was wondering if the plans are still avaiable.


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