1: Domicile Blogs – geodesic history and my history with geodesics

The first geodesic dome was built in the 1920’s by Walther Bauersfeld in the early 1920’s for the Zeiss Company as a planetarium (http://www.physics.princeton.edu/~trothman/domes.html) – it opened publicly in 1926. Polymath, social thinker and inventor Buckminster Fuller popularised the dome and domes as homes for Americans and the world in the early 1960’s. Domes were also popular with the counterculture movement in America in the late 1960’s – the organic round shape achieved by simple triangular geometry obviously very conducive to leaving a “square” life with its rectilinear housing behind. The infamous Drop City artist commune (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drop_City) took Buckminster Fuller’s designs to heart, attempting to break away from societal norms and pressures and forge a new synergistic way of life.

I came across geodesic domes in the counter-cultural architecture bible Shelter (http://www.amazon.com/Shelter-Lloyd-Kahn/dp/0936070110) in the 1990’s as part of my interest in tree-changing, sustainability practices and alternative building methods and architecture in general. Geotecture ( http://www.bioreference.net/encyclopedia/wikipedia/g/ge/geotecture.html ) , temporary housing and nomadism equally interested me, and geodesic forms seemed to be the answer to all of these questions.

Fun story – I once manufactured a geodesic dome out of bamboo struts 3m in length, and pre-assembled the pentagonal faces for an Environmental/Activist fundraising festival in East Gippsland. A couple of the pentagons were slightly damaged en route to the festival site (transport by ex-army truck!) and it was there I learnt the name “Buckminster Fuller”. I was lampooned for having attempted to build the thing without even knowing about dear old Bucky.

Once on site, I had to wrangle the remaining pieces of bamboo (separately transported the day before) away from my fellow activists who had begun to pilfer them for every use imaginable. The dome itself collapsed under its own weight/poor construction, and the vestiges removed to a location closer to the main part of the festival as a “healing space”. Ironically, this mirrors the perhaps apocryphal story of Fuller’s own failed attempt to build a dome out of venetian blinds…

Moral of the story – make sure your structural integrity is… integrally structural. A bamboo constructed dome is not only a fantastic idea, but eminently possible, and need not be as poorly constructed as mine…


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