About geodesic domes

Structure

What is a geodesic dome?

One geodesic pattern

One geodesic pattern

A geodesic dome is a partial spherical structure, which encloses space. The geodesic dome’s design stems from a regular Icosahedron (interlocking pentagons making up 20 equilateral triangles) projected to create an approximated sphere.

Geodesics are a network of great circles on the surface of a sphere, which intersect to form a lattice of triangles that closely and smoothly approximate to a sphere and help distribute stress across the structure.

A Solardome® geodesic dome typically has five geodesic patterns that repeat around the top of the dome.

Why is a geodesic dome so strong?

It is the strength and rigidity of the various sized triangles over a spherical frame that allows even distribution of stress across the structure. The resulting dome is incredibly strong, whilst requiring the minimum amount of material possible. Solardome® geodesic domes are constructed from an aluminium frame and toughened glass cladding, meaning they are very light but, at the same time, extremely robust and can withstand extreme wind and snow loadings.

What is dome frequency?

The term ‘frequency’ relates to the shape or smoothness of the dome. The higher the frequency, the more triangles it has, and so the closer the dome is to a true sphere.

frequency of the geodesic pattern

How to calculate frequency
To find the frequency of the geodesic pattern, simply count the number of struts between the centres of two adjacent pentagon patterns. The top of each dome forms a pentagon (the five glass triangles around the apex), another can be found next to a door. Then count how many struts are between the centres of these pentagons – this number is the dome’s frequency.

Frequency of our domes
Our standard glasshouses range from 2-frequency to 6-frequency. Our SOLARDOME® PRO system ranges upwards from 4-frequency.

Are they structurally sound?

Our outdoor living standard domes comply to, and exceed British wind and snow loading standards. No other glass building is as strong in extreme weather conditions. Please ask if you would like to see our certificate of design conformity or our structural analysis.

All bespoke SOLARDOME® PRO domes (over 6m in diameter) are structurally engineered to Eurocode standards and meet individual wind and snow loadings.

How do they cope in extreme weather conditions?

With a track record of over three decades, Solardome® geodesic domes are used to standing up to gale force winds in extreme locations all over the world. However, if you live in an area with very high winds and/or snow fall, our larger standard glasshouses may not be suitable for your region-specific requirements. If this is the case, for your peace of mind, we also have our SOLARDOME® PRO architectural system for geodesic domes from 6m/20ft in diameter, which can be clad in a variety of materials and can withstand artic snow loadings comfortably. These domes have a much thicker frame to allow for the most extreme conditions.

Materials

What are they made of?

Our standard Solardome® glasshouses are made from non-corrosive mill-finished aluminium profiles (79% recycled) and 4mm toughened glass known for its clarity, long life and strength.  They have a powder coated finish (white as standard, although other colours are available) to all exterior surfaces and all fittings are stainless steel to prevent rusting or moss build up. Silicone sealant and ultraviolet stable plastic glazing strips provide a weather-tight seal. At the end of the domes long life, they are almost completely recyclable.

Our SOLARDOME® PRO system is constructed from purpose-designed mill-finished aluminium profiles (alloy 6082 T6) for the strut and link arm section with a unique Geo-Lok aluminium nodal clamping mechanism. Structural silicone and glazing tape hold the glass panes in place, and are sealed with weatherproof sealant resistant to ozone, ultraviolet, and temperature extremes.

The domes can be clad with a wide range of materials, depending on your building specification and application:

  • Single glazing – From 6mm thick panels.
  • Double glazing – U-values of around 1.2w/m² can be achieved, depending on your chosen specification. We can also include a variety of films internally to shade, tint or create a laminated safety panel.
  • Other – Any material up to 100mm thick can be accommodated (i.e. wood, metal composite or insulated panels). Insulation and/or acoustic materials can be fitted on the inside if required.
Do the glass panes break easily?

All our standard glasshouse domes come with 4mm toughened glass, which rarely breaks. We were even informed by one customer that their dome was hit by a hockey puck and the panel stayed intact.

The glass can be broken by other means, such as vandalism, but our domes stand up strong when it comes to day-to-day activities.

How long will they last?

Solardome® geodesic domes have been in production for over 40 years and the original models across the country are still going strong. The latest generation of geodesic domes are made with non-corrosive materials, are virtually maintenance free and should last several decades, if looked after as per our recommendations. They can even be dismantled and rebuilt, making them very cost-effective over their lifespan.