Building Concrete Geodesic Domes
A geodesic dome is comprised of many slightly curved triangular panels. Most geodesic domes are constructed from kits, which simplifies the construction. The beauty of geodesic domes is that they require substantially less buildings materials and yer provide a stronger finished structure than any other type of building. It is far beyond the scope of this article to offer precise construction instructions for every kit on the market, but the steps listed below should provide a summary explanation of the basic steps required for all kits.
Step 1: Foundation
Geodesic domes should be built on top of a concrete foundation. Refer to the particular plans you are using for the exact size of the foundation. Pour the slab 4 inches thick, and reinforced with both heavy gauge wire mesh and 3/8 inch rebar. Finish the foundation slab to a smooth finish.
Step 2: Building the Frame
Before you can our the concrete dome, the individual panels must be put together. Each manufacturer uses a slightly different method of construction, but the general guideline is to build triangular sections that connect together. As the panels are put into place, tight them only enough to hold them in place. By leaving some play in the joints for now, the dome is easier to pull into shape as the last pieces are installed.
Step 3: Alignment and Frame Tightening
A geodesic dome fits together sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. Each panel is connected to other panels on all side. As the last panels are put together, it will be necessary to correct the alignment of all the other pieces so that the dome shape can be achieved. one all panels have been lightly fitted together, go back over the entire surface and tighten down the individual panels.
Step 4: Reinforcing the Frame
The next step in building a geodesic home is to cover the triangular panels with a wire mesh. Ordinary chicken wire is a lightweight wire mesh that can be cut to fit the panels. This mesh will be be how the concrete is held in place while it drives, so be sure that it is attached to the panels securely enough to hold the weight of wet concrete later.
Step 5: Mixing the Concrete
Instead of using a concrete delivery, it may make more sense to mix the concrete yourself. Ideally, you will only be working with one panel at a time, layering stiff wet concrete onto the wire mesh. Never begin putting concrete onto a panel the is adjacent to a panel which has not yet fully dried.
Step 6: Bottoms Up
Work all the way around the bottom of the structure before moving upwards. In this fashion, the panels are poured in a sort of spiral going around and upwards. Allow a minimum of 48 hours drying time between pouring any given segment and the segments adjacent to it. Too much damp concrete in one place can cause the dome to collapse during the early stages of construction, but this danger lessens as the construction progresses and each panel adds a little more support to the entire structure.