The thing that I love about working with our team is that we have setup days down to a science. These domes where made to go up so easily and install days with Archimedes are more quick and easeful than any other project I've ever worked on.
These structures were created out of years worth of trials and issues with the common format domes. There were a number of things that we wanted to change so that we could have the beautiful format of a geodesic dome without some of the issues that we were experiencing every install.
The first thing we wanted to address was the speed that domes can be installed at. The common 6V and 3V domes take ages to set up. The Incendia domes that you can see in these photos are that style of dome. They exist for a different type of reason than ours. They're beautiful, structural, and really stable. They're absolutely necessary for the type of project that Incendia does that has to sustain weight.
When you make a dome out of triangles you support the struts in a way that prevents shearing. In very large structures, it is a bad idea to have very long unsupported struts. The longer the struts, the easier they are to bend if shear forces are applied.
Although useful when you need the structure, the biggest problem we had with these types of domes is that they are incredibly labour intensive. Although the final product is structural because the triangles support it in a way that it's fully rigid, the commitment to structure means that you're committing to hours, days, sometimes weeks to install one of these domes. We don't need our domes to support weight. We wanted shade and shelter, and so we searched for an option that would go up and down in way less time.
To make this possible, Archimedes came up with the idea to remove the supporting triangles and just leave in the hexagons and pentagons that make up the essence of the sphere. But If a sphere consists of any quadrilaterals or more complex polygons, they can flex if the connections at the ends are not completely rigid and this creates structural issues. So instead of trying to make the domes rigid, the Archimedes team went the other direction- we made the domes flex.
Like a molecule, these domes breathe. Instead of rigid supports, they are held together through tensile integrity, a type of harnessing system that allows for a natural movement that causes the dome to maintain it's structural integrity. Picture something like a bubble. When you blow a bubble, the surface of it has a natural movement that flexes the pressure points to make it hold together as long as possible. The domes have the same type of principle.
All that nerding aside, the cause of this principle is that the domes go together in a fraction of the time that most domes take, because we don't have to make our connection points rigid. Also, because of this principle, it means that you don't have to use a single tool to put it together. No nuts and bolts, no screws, no anchors. You will never have to pick up a hammer or a screw driver. It all just clicks together because it's allowed to flex.
Another issue with common domes that we wanted to address was the problem of having many different types of parts that you have to keep track of.
If you are making a rigid dome structure, you want the triangles that the structure is composed of to be as close to equilateral triangles as possible so that the stresses will be approximately the same on all the struts. The problem with this is that you then end up with poles of various different lengths, and it can be complicated to keep track of all the different pieces that have to go together.
By cutting out the use of triangles it means that the poles of our domes are all the same size. And because the pentagons and hexagons that make up the structure are an even 2 to 1 ratio, our hubs that connect the struts are exactly the same, with 2 hex angles and 1 pent angle on every hub. That means that every single piece on these domes can literally be changed with any other piece. There's no fussing around or counting or measuring to see which one is which. Every piece is interchangeable.
The thing is, these different domes are made for different purposes. You can't hang or swing off our domes. But when it comes to setting domes up in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days, I'm super grateful that we have these easy up structures to create shade and shelter any time we need it.
It makes install days really, really wonderfully simple.