Advantages of the geodesic domes

Characteristics and properties of Geodesic Domes

In the following lines, we will discuss one by one the major factors behind the success of Geodesic Domes.

Economics: Lower initial cost

A dome is the geometric shape that encloses the largest amount of volume with the least amount of surface area. This generates a greater saving of building material to enclose usable space or work area than any other structure with a different form.

Control of external and internal temperature


Since their discovery, geodesic domes have been one of the safest havens in areas with the most extreme and violent climates on the planet, since exposure to cold in winter and heat in summer is reduced.

The temperature transmission is a direct factor between the exposed surface or area of the outer wall.  A dome, being spherical, has less coated surface area per unit of internal volume, thus reducing the temperature gain or loss.

The interior shape causes either hot or cold air flows to occur that can be used to control the internal temperature, stabilize it and make it uniform, thereby eliminating potential cold spots. Due to this shape, it acts as a giant reflector towards the bottom part, reflecting and concentrating the heat on the inside, preventing further radial heat loss.

In this way, the dome becomes an optimal construction for polar climates, either as observatories, laboratories or protecting radar antennas.

A safe construction.
Stable, strong and solid
Due to its shape, the geodesic dome is a stable construction as the pressure applied on it is distributed (to a certain degree) around the entire structure.

Being comprised of triangles, we can say it has a unique stability, since the triangle is the only polygon that keeps its shape by nature. This gives the dome a unique stability. The triangles interconnect so that their sides form a Geodesic network of "great circles" (which are formed, in turn, by rows), that provide consistency and strength to the whole building.

The domes have an even distribution of weight on the ground plane through the bottom ring and a low centre of gravity, which gives it a great advantage over other structures when facing earthquakes.

High winds generated by tornadoes, hurricanes and storms generate a negative air pressure when they hit the eaves and cornices of conventional homes, capable of getting in underneath and totally or partially destroying roofs and leaving the occupants exposed. However, the aerodynamic shape of a geodesic dome and the absence of suction elements offer the best protection against the winds, whatever the direction.

Weight and Strength

Due to its high strength to weight ratio, when we talk about geodesic domes, we are talking about incredibly lightweight structures.

Let us look at an example:

  • The Dome of the Pantheon (Rome) weighs more than 400kg/m2 covering a span of 44 metres.
  • A modern concrete dome weighs about 200kg/m2.
  • The Montreal Geodesic Dome weighed 53 kg/m2 and covered a diameter of 76 metres.
  • Today we are talking about just 10kg/m2 or less.

Quick assembly time compared with traditional constructions
Weeks, days and even hours can be the time taken to build a geodesic dome, depending on the complexity. There is also the possibility in some instances to disassemble and reassemble.

Here are some historical examples:

  • Dome for the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn (Michigan), built in 1953.  It has a span of 27.4 metres and was constructed in 5 weeks.
  • Dome of the Honolulu Kaiser Auditorium, built in 1957. It has a 50 metre span, and it took 38 workers and 22 hours to erect it. An hour later, 2,000 people attended a concert of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.