Burning Man chill-out dome

Domes are the most efficient way to build a shelter, covering the most space with the least material. But all domes leak in the rain (ask anyone who has lived in one). Yet, because they can be erected quickly, cheaply, and make wonderful, uninterrupted, open, almost magical, spaces inside, domes are perfect where it does not rain. Or on a temporary basis. Or both. Like Burning Man.

Once popular in the 1970s as alternative housing, then abandoned as impractical a decade later, domes are now in a resurgence because they are nearly ideal structures for arid and temporary shelters at Burning Man. This instant city now sports more domes than anywhere else in the world, and many of these are quite large. Considering how vast they are, it is amazing they can be thrown up in a few days by a small dedicated crew. And then be re-erected the next year.

You can use any set of long uniform pieces for the structs of a dome, from 2x4s, to electrical conduit pipe. The key critical pieces are the hubs which connect the structs, and the strut lengths. These must have a mathematical precision, and their dimensions vary by the size and variation of the dome species.

Therefore if you want to build a geodesic dome structure, you need to be able to construct strong hubs accurately. Domerama is the guide you need. This website shows you how to calculate struct lengths and how to make (or where to buy) dependable hub connectors. Using this site many amateurs have successfully built domes that worked the first time; you’ll need help: remember this is a very math-intensive endeavor.

The site has tons of materials on the varieties of domes, erecting domes (not as easy as you think), designing them, what to use as coverings, and introduces global dome culture. It is the best place to keep up on dome innovations: one cool new idea is to shrink wrap domes. Find out how here. Domerama is better than any current book on domes by far.

-- KK  

Sample Excerpts:

Advantages of shrink wrap covering:

• Will hold up under extreme weather conditions
• Translucent to let a large amount of light inside the geodesic dome structure
• Easy to repair, simple to create ventilation in the form of windows
• Strong enough to handle freeway and railway speeds
• Seams bond through heat, creating a seamless containment
• Will last up to 2 years in fully exposed outdoor conditions

Tyvek for covering geodesic domes:

Noise factor: when the wind hits the Tyvek® covered dome there may be flapping and so a lot of noise at high winds. Hard structure Tyvek® (the one you normally find at the hardware store) is stiff and noisy when new, but if you put the Tyvek® in a washing machine on the delicate cycle with no detergent for 2-3 cycles, it comes out soft and much more fabric-like. Washing this type of Tyvek® does not seem to affect the water resistance but can cause some shrinkage. 5% should be added to measurements to allow for shrinkage if you are going to wash your Tyvek® .


This is the classic way to connect geodesic struts together. A hole is drilled in the flattened ends then bolted together.To accommodate a drilled hole into your struts, the length of the strut needs to be longer.For example a 36 inch pipe/conduit strut will need to be extended at both ends to drill holes. A rule of thumb is to add 2 X 3/4 inch = 1.5 inches (or about 8cm) more to all struts. That means the center of the holes would need to be drilled 3/4″ from each strut end. is a project looking to make dome building simple and fun. They developed a hub connector featuring a robust ball-and-socket joint and an integrated thumbscrew that securely locks the strut to the node.These 3D-printed connectors are made in small batches in workshops and garages across the USA by fabricators with open-source 3D printers like the Makerbot. The principal fabricator for the 3D-printed connectors is Mark Cohen, who operates five 3D printers out of his garage in Brooklyn:

This is the Starplate system offered by Stromberg’s. Starplates are steel plates, with channels to hold 2×2′s, 2×3′s or 2×4′s. You simply drill holes in each end of 25 struts of equal length and bolt them into the 11 star plates to build a solid, mini-dome framework in a couple of hours.