It’s too easy for me to get caught up in the magic and mystery of geodesic domes – what are the empirical components that make domes more than just “way-cool groovy structures, man” and actually a solid technology for supporting human endeavors and improving the social and material quality of human agency?
These pictures are taken from the Dome Council of America’s White Paper on Dome Home Energy Efficiency from 1986. Sadly I can’t find the NDC as an extant organization any more…
This first picture shows the wind pressure resistance that each type of structure exhibits – you can see that the rectilinear structure presents a flat surface to the wind “this combined action results in more infiltration of external air and in a greater exfiltration of internal air”* – basically cold air gets in and hot air is sucked out. Much less so with a geodesic/spherical structure:
This next picture illustrates the flow of warm air in a dome – warm air rises and then circulates back to the floor, creating a more even temperature throughout the structure. Not so with a rectilinear structure…:
Essentially, what the NDC was trying to demonstrate was that the dome home costs less to insulate to achieve energy efficiency – either allowing the homeowner to either uses insulation with a lower R-value, or by using a regular or higher R-value insulation use less energy to heat the structure – both methods resulting in a reduction of energy costs.
This last picture illustrates the disparity in surface area to living space in a geodesic dome home compared to rectilinear structures:
This very simply demonstrates that geodesic structures require less material to construct for the same amount of livable area/floorspace. Which again results in a reduction of construction costs which means a lower carbon footprint.
Having toyed with multiple stories and linking domes, it is evident that much more thought and R + D needs to be conducted with regard to high-density populations. Fantastic dreams of arcologies aside http://www.google.com.au/search?q=arcology&safe=active&rlz=1RMBKJA_enAU583AU585&hl=en-US&espv=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=90VwU9C3OMaHkQW_8IC4Bg&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=672&dpr=2 this is the real question facing anyone who wants to make a substantial social change rather than just toy around with personal living spaces…
* “White Paper – Dome Home Energy Efficiency”, National Dome Council, National Association of Home Builders, Washington DC, 1986.