Where Geodesic Domes Come From

Geodesic domes are cheap, strong, light and graceful but little information is available on small domes. This article is intended to help fill the information gap by explaining the theory on which domes are based, and to encourage you to try designs of your own.


| May/June 1971


Learn about geodesic domes, you can design a cheap and strong dome using these step-by-step instructions and detailed diagrams in the Image Gallery.

Where Geodesic Domes Come From

Geodesic domes possess many advantages. They're cheap, strong, light and graceful. Unfortunately, until very recently, there has been little information available on small domes that could be built by the average person. This article is intended to help fill the information gap by explaining the theory on which domes are based, and to encourage you to try designs of your own.

There is no reason to be intimidated by the apparent complexity of dome patterns. Anyone who can handle simple trigonometry can design a dome to meet his own needs. We'll start by exploring the geometric relations that form the basis for all dome structures.

Every dome ever built ultimately derives from one of the five regular solids shown in figure one. Dome design consists of breaking down these basic frameworks into networks of smaller faces that can be handled more easily.

Dome Starter

Figure one shows some interesting relationships. Notice that the sum of the faces and the vertices always exceeds the number of edges by two. This relation, V + F = E + 2, is known as Euler's formula, and is true for any solid, regular or not.





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