dooda dot com

It's up !  
Here's a view from the north

     This picture shows the dome profile, the tower, and the walkout basement doorway,
     For a look at the dome from a different angle , click on from the west side of the dome.       
     Before the floor was complete, it started with radiating floor joists  supported in the center on a sturdy white pine log from my woods. These make for a very dramatic ceiling for the basement level, and are worth the extra effort involved in making them. The steep angle cuts on the joists had to made with a chain saw, 'cause there's no other kind of blade that can cut so flat an angle, in framing material.
     With a round floorplan, it can be a challenge dealing with most furnishings and appliances that are rectilinear in shape. The outside of the dome circle is big, but everything toward the center of the circle gets progressively smaller. To deal with this in the kitchen area, I made an elevated floor for the sink, stove, and cabinets. By raising the floor in this area, it makes for better visibility toward the river below, without interrupting the first course of the dome's perimeter triangles. The raised kitchen floor is about a foot and a half above the rest of the floor (two steps up), allowing for good viewing through the large dormer windows that are built into one of the pentagons. Feels like you're on the command bridge of the Starship Enterprise, so I made some tapered wing counters on either side of the cooking stove, to make best use of the available area. Custom tiles in a mosaic arrangement look good on the wing counters.  At the end of the raised kitchen floor projection, I've continued the tile with a half-round bistro table.  This is perfect for when the Supermodels stop by for a visit.
     Also inside the dome is a new stairway to reach the second floor of the tower. By careful placement, there's room for a little perch above the basement stairway (this'll be a computer nook over a tiny closet). The use of peeled pine logs from my woods adds a rustic touch, and offsets what could otherwise be a futuristic, techno feel inside the geodesic dome. Click on Open stairway. 
     The second floor of the tower was immediately claimed by my youngest son, as his room. It's got a great view of the river  and will someday have a little balcony outside the door.

Dome Triangles  

Me with a triangle

     Here I am, pictured with one of the triangles that make the geodesic dome. Precisely fabricated, the two different sizes of triangles form hexagons and pentagons, when bolted together. It takes 105 triangles to make the 5/8 truncated sphere, in a three-frequency (3v) dome of "alternate" construction style.
    The triangles have integral frames, which eliminates the need for "hubs" connecting the many "struts" for the framework of the dome. Each size triangle is isoceles, meaning two sides are identical. The base dimension of each triangle is identical, allowing the hexagons to surround the pentagons, and vice versa.
    Though this method of dome construction is harder than the conventional "hub" construction technique, there are many advantages to using it. Accuracy and precision can be maintained in both the component fabrication and their assembly on the building site----this is a biggie when dealing with potential cumulative error that can cause domes to fail to fit together well, requiring on-site alterations of components that should, theoretically, fit together to form the geometrically approximated spherical shape that's so dynamic, attractive, efficient, and otherwise wonderful.
    With hubs, there are lots of places where the building has "holes"----unsupported areas that it's impossible to nail plywood, windows, or shingles to, and that can also cause air infiltration and/or heat loss. Additionally, the nailing width of the framework "strut", available for the attachment of the plywood sheathing skin of the dome, is essentially doubled with a hubless design. Besides the extra area to nail the skin to the framework, the angled fit is improved in these "double-framed" domes, since each frame piece is ripped at 7 degrees (the "dihedral" angle between triangle faces), allowing for a flat nailing surface for each plywood piece, rather than the edged corner they'd otherwise be contacting when no allowance is structurally made to accomodate these dihedral necessities----if using a single-framework, hub-style construction style.
    It's lots more involved cutting the many compound mitre angles for these hubless triangles, and the necessary accuracy involved in making the hundreds of very "flat" angles (not even CLOSE to square cuts) that vary between the triangle sizes, and between the "lefts" and rights" of each respective strut length, scares most dome builders away from this method of construction. It's still a cool style to use, though, and allows the building to be disassembled for moving, if necessary, as I did 30 years ago with a similarly constructed dome I sold to a friend for relocation.
    Note the additional support brace at 24" o.c. that strengthens the component, eliminating any sagging over time (like the old ones used to do without any internal bracing, and with bigger triangular dimensions, in well-intentioned but misguided attempts to simplify and minimize geometric complexity of alternatively designed "frequency" and "breakdown" designations-----lots of ways to geometrically approximate a sphere, most "Bucky Ball" structures are based in icosahedrons, 20-sided polyhedrons of equilateral triangles, dividing these triangles into varieties of subdivisions). The additional frame piece (the smaller of the two parallel 2 by 6's) inside the triangle supports the plywood sheathing pieces at their spliced edges, and also keeps the specifications of the building materials in mind, conforming to "code", long the bane of dome builders who sometimes meet resistance from building inspectors and other authorities.
     Assembling the triangles took longer than I'd anticipated, but we still got 'em all put together in one weekend to form a big plywood ball. This was a really fun deal---seeing it all go together, though there were some obstacles to overcome, and some details that needed attention, not all of which were anticipated. With the generous help of several friends, it all happened, and I'm grateful for the help of each and every person who lent a hand, or simply provided moral support from afar. I couldn't have done it without you. Thanks again.
1970's Dome  

    I built another dome many years ago, and lived there for about 5 years, on a friend's land, north of Minneapolis. It was built from salvaged materials, on a shoestring budget. Smaller than my current dome, it had no basement, but was instead simply built on posts supporting the floor platform on which the triangles were assembled into the spherical shape we all know and love.
    Click on the links, to see some old pictures.

Lakeshore view        Inside view        Backside, with pentagon window

Floor joists       

Legal Schmegal  

    The retrospective, "back-to-the-sixties" theme of my dome-building here continued through the local governmental authorities being personally threatened by such an innovative buildings' existence. Already irritated by my having proven them wrong about their claimed ownership of this lovely land a couple decades ago (they'd claimed 60 acres for a proposed park, though they really only owned less than 20, they were additionally irked more recently with my refusal to allow them a public access to the river along a private drive shared with a neighboring landowner. There was never a problem sharing the river with folks who were respectful users of the area, but it was important to prevent rowdy abuse of the lovely resource, so that's why we insisted on the private nature of the driveway's river access.
    Seeing an opportunity to exact some sort of vindictive retribution for my insubordination to their heirarchical view of human existence, they decided to complain about the dome for a variety of reasons. While I don't want to sound unkind, for purposes of clarity and brevity, it's most succinct to simply call them moronic dolts with axes to grind. Happily, I'd anticipated some of their assaults, so was prepared with accurate information to counter their mistaken notions of the way governmental regulatory authorities are supposed to interact with builders. Still, they persisted in their incompetence/ignorace, attempting to assert their pretentions of authoritative infallibility in numerous and sundry ways. They took themselves very seriously, even if nobody else did.
    While the county zoning department tried to retroactively require re-approval of the building project for which I'd already gotten a valid permit, the main issue became the setback distance from the river. I'd planned to build at even a 150' setback, but was happy to see this figure halved to allow me to make use of a better site with a dramatic overlook of the water as it flows toward, then away from, the bluff that the dome's sited upon.
    When the guys from the county zoning office finally got around to measuring the building foundation's distance from the OHWM (ordinary high water mark) they insisted on measuring in only a horizontal manner, meaning that it didn't matter to them that the building was set high above the water, since they were claiming only the "x" vector was relevant, not the "y" vector. No matter that I'd pointed out to them that the ordinance in question contained no reference to such an additionally restrictive constraint, they persisted in asserting, once again, their PAI (pretention to authoritarian infallibility).
    While preparing their legal case against me, they additionally decided to refer to the dome as an "accessory structure", meaning that it would have a 15' height limitation. Their justification for designating the building this way was that I already had a house, so anything additional would be, by definition, an accessory structure with height limitations. I'd already pointed out to them that I have separate, contiguous parcels of land, and that the dome was sited on it's own 40 acre property separate from the 40 where the old farm house sits, but in their zeal for prosecution, they'd apparently forgotten about this important detail. They just got more pissed off each time I showed their mistakes---- there's more goofy stuff that happens each time the Emperor is shown to have no clothes on. This time they decided to assert that the building permit itself was invalid, since they claimed I hadn't started construction within the one-year period of time allowed for such commencement of building activity. Wrong again, and this one was even easier to prove, with plenty of witnesses and receipts on hand.
    Before filing legal papers, they decided to measure the building's setback from the river again, this time allowing for the "lay-of-the-land" measurement technique, by putting a tape measure on the ground itself. They timed their measurement visit to coincide with the springtime's record high flood stage, and the high water obscured the actual "Ordinary High Water Mark" (OHWM) from which such measurements commence. The flood water flowage would have literally swept them away, had they really gotten anywhere near the actual, accurate location of the OHWM.
    A third measurement visit, at the end of October, was quite revealing, and this is the one that really made my case against the goofballs. Though the authorities had always dismissed my claims that erosion of the riverbank could have lessened the setback distance in the two years since I'd started building, their measurements on their third visit indicated that just such a possibility had indeed taken place, with a loss of 3' of riverbank distance (in 9 months' time), measured horizontally.
    To distract the court's attention from this obvious invalidation of the fundamental basis of their legal case, the county tried to assert that no erosion could have taken place (despite their own measurements that clearly indicated otherwise). They fabricated some computer-generated graphical depictions of the area, adding a non-existent bog to an area of the river, insisting that such an obstacle to erosional flow would have prevented any loss of soil from the "stable" bank. They actually said these things as though they were to be taken seriously, despite videotaped footage of the river, and it's flow channel that indicated otherwise.
    For their third measurement visit, they attempted to give at least token acknowledgment to the principle of accuracy, but unfortunately failed at this try as well. Utilizing a laser transit on a tripod, of the type used to level concrete forms, or other building components, they claimed this tool to be a "laser survey" tool. Though the tool can only measure vertical distances, none of which they even kept track of, they instead asserted it's accuracy for horizontal measurements. They attached a broken tape measure (we had to start with the "one foot" mark) to the top of the calibrated telescoping stick, pulling it sideways with enough force to laterally deflect the fully-extended (25') fiberglass stick beyond any semblance of accurate verticality above the ground's measuring location. I suggested the use of a plumb line to correct for this obvious error, but this fell on deaf ears, so they simply eye-balled it. At the top of the bluff, there was a big pile of firewood interfering with accurate measurements, but they ignored this deviation from accuracy as well, later asserting in court, under oath, that going over the firewood, despite it's estimated 4-5 foot height (and twice that in width), didn't add any distance to their measurements of the day. It was absolutely too wierd !
    Happily, I won in court, even without a lawyer.
Practice Dome  

    For a look at a downsized dome built to reassure myself that I had all the math correct, click on 14' diameter Baby dome    , useful as a mini-shelter for something or other. I'm planning on offerring these small structures for sale, as they're small enough that, in most locations, there's no building permit required for their construction. The triangles are small enough to be covered by a single piece of roll roofing, so it isn't hard to make 'em weatherproof. Lotsa possibilities for windows and doors.

Return to Home Page        Return to Art Work       

Warren Slocum
2220 122nd St. New Richmond, Wisconsin 54017
Phone: (715)248-3150,  Email: