Geodesic Structures That Aren’t Just Domes

Geodesic structures

[Brian Korsedal] and his company Arcology Now! have developed a great geodesic building system which makes architectural structures that aren’t just limited to domes. They 3D scan the terrain, generate plans, and make geodesic steel space frame structures which are easy to assemble and can be in any shape imaginable.

Their clever design software can create any shape and incorporate uneven terrains into the plans. The structures are really easy to construct with basic tools, and assembly is extremely straight forward because the pole labels are generated by the design software. Watch this construction time lapse video.

At the moment, ordering a structure fabricated by the company is your only option. But it shouldn’t be too hard to fabricate something similar if you have access to a hackerspace. It may even be worth getting in touch with Arcology now! as they do seem happy collaborating to make art like the Amyloid Project, and architectural structures for public spaces and festivals like Lucidity. Find out what they are up to on the Arcology Now! Facebook page.

Would this be perfect for what you’ve been thinking about building? Let us know what that ‘something’ is in the comments below.

18 thoughts on “Geodesic Structures That Aren’t Just Domes

  1. Originally I thought this could be used to build quick sturdy temporary shelter by explorers (e.g., Arctic, Antarctic, inter-planetary). But, after watching the build video, I’m not sure. It shows about 8 people taking about half a day building a structure that in the end doesn’t seem big enough to shelter them all.

    Still, it’s a good start. How about if, instead of using screws and bolts, they can make the ends self-lock, press-fit or use some other mechanism that doesn’t require tools?

    1. My experience of steel tube domes is that they are quite heavy and can be time consuming to put up compared to tents. However, they are likely to be stronger and definitely more interesting looking than many other temporary buildings. So I think it depends on how temporary a structure you need and how many people you have to help put it up.

      It’s a good point about finding another method to screws and bolts. Not so much so it doesn’t require tools as they are quite basic, but to speed things up and avoid fingers getting squished or other injury. I imagine cost and durability would play a huge factor in improving the connections, and it’s also great to be able to pop down to a hardware store if something breaks or goes missing.

      1. I’ve got to admit I’ve only watched the build video. For whatever reason I thought they’re aluminium poles. If they’re made of steel, that’s probably why they needed so many people to put that structure up.

        I guess it’s because I’ve been watching film clips about polar explorations at the turn of the last century and what lessons we can learn from that which are applicable to building the first human habitable stations on the moon and on Mars. One proposal is to use long sandbags which can be stacked in spirals to build igloo-like shelters. IMHO, that’s good for small 2–3-person structures. For larger structures we may need an internal support like these domes which can then be covered with sandbags. That’s why I suggested a self-locking mechanism because nipping down to a local hardware shop may not be an option. I think it should also be quicker to put up because in a hostile natural environment the less one’s exposed to the outside (e.g., wind, heat, radiation) the better.

        1. Your research sounds exciting. I would be interested in seeing some of those clips and finding out more about your conclusions. Got links? I found this describing the super adobe I have heard that sandbags are a great building tool for temporary buildings, especially in emergency situations as bags are light to transport and can be filled with dirt locally. I see what you mean by the size limitations.

          I agree if you are going to setup on Mars, it makes sense to spend a little time perfecting connectors before launch.

    2. I’ve erected a Sprung Instant Structure. Don’t let the name fool you it took us a couple of days to put that thing up. The one we built was a beehive for salt. It was good sized, but nothing like the thing on their home page.

      I think this was the model we built, although that wasn’t the job I was on. The one I put up I did at the Exxon campus in Florham Park.

  2. May I be the first to recommend that the guy in the video get himself a pair of safety glasses, before he cuts his next piece of tubing?

    Seriously — squinting isn’t gonna save your eyes from a metal splinter, dude.

    1. I actually know someone who almost lost sight in one eye because a shard of white hot steel shot into their eye from a lathe. They used lathes for 30+ years, one ‘quick’ mistake can be costly. I must find out the exact details, but from what I can remember they were lucky that it was a magnetic material, using the right tool surgery was not needed.

      1. I remember watching an interview of, I think, a British WW2 tanker who ended up on the losing end of an encounter with a Tiger tank. He escaped, but was blinded with shrapnel in his eyes. Luckily, the medic who treated him was an ophthalmologist and the medic just ran a magnet over his eyes to extract all the shrapnel, and he was as good as new. Didn’t even realise that was possible.

  3. I like hypars. Hyperbolic paraboloids. Easy to construct using a simple non-flat frame. A quick way to visualize a hypar is to use a 3D modeling program which can do create non-triangulated polygons and can quad divide them.

    Make a simple square, closed polygon. Select one vertex and raise it a ways. Now quad divide several times. You have a hypar. Next, make any regular polygon with an even number of vertexes, 6 or more. Select every alternate vertex and raise up. Quad divide several times for a more complex hypar.

    To make a real one, weld rebar or use wood or anything rigid enough to support its own weight to make the frame. Cut strips of glass or carbon fiber cloth long enough to reach across the frame. Start at the middle of one edge and stretch a strip from the middle of it to the middle of the edge opposite. Repeat for each pair of edges. Next apply strips to either side of the first strips, overlapping 50%.

    Repeat until the entire frame is covered, then apply polyester, epoxy or urethane resin. The finished structure will be very light for its size yet extremely strong.

    The process is much like drawing two lines on a piece of paper, marking off the same number of divisions on each then connecting each pair of marks so that a parabola is described, but in a three dimensional form.

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