CNC-milled house dome inspired by Bucky Fuller’s tensegrity




In 1960 American architect/designer/futurist Buckminster Fuller envisioned building a dome over Manhattan to regulate weather and air pollution. A half century later, a Danish construction company built a Bucky Fuller-inspired “geodesic” dome in the center of one of Copenhagen’s largest plazas as an experiment in future living: single family home and mini urban farm included.

“So the thinking of the dome itself and that was also Buckminster Fuller’s idea was: could you live inside a greenhouse,” explains the Dome of Visions founder Martin Manthorpe (of NCC Construction). The Danish dome, designed by architects Kristoffer Tejlgaard and Benny Jepsen, is also meant as a challenge to our conventional ideas on housing: “to explore the idea of the greenhouse as a third space that is both inside and outside at once”.

At a time of increasingly strict regulations for for home energy performance, Manthorpe sees the design as an alternative to ultra-thick walls; instead, the greenhouse serves as the “outside” of the wall and the actual wall of the house is “inside”.

The greenhouse was built with overlapping CNC-cut polycarbonate “fish scales”. The home inside the greenhouse was designed for a family of 4 and since it’s protected from wind and rain it’s created with a minimum amount of resources and no glue or chemicals.

The geodesic, or “omnitriangulated”, design popularized (and patented) by Fuller is inherently minimalist. It relies on Fuller’s concept of tensegrity, using tensional integrity (compression and tension) to make an extremely efficient structure that is strong while requiring little material. The Dome of Visions was inspired by the C60 molecule, AKA the “Buckminsterfullerene” or “bucky-ball” (a molecule discovered after Fuller’s death).

Manthorpe sees the Dome of Visions as not only a model for future housing for single families, but on a larger scale, perhaps over a multi-family community or a city block. “When you look back in time in Buckminster Fuller’s era, in the sixties, I think that the dome was kind of equal to hippies and I think when that culture or whatever developed I think people forgot the dome and even didn’t think of that as a new way of living. I think it comes up now because we need to think differently when we think about construction and urban and city development.”

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48 Comments

  1. Thomas Powell
    March 17, 2016
    Reply

    Would ETFE work in this greenhouse? Much lighter and stronger than Plexiglass. Looking for the best options for our retirement property.

  2. samy3my4
    March 19, 2016
    Reply

    Amazing project.Great video. I would like to know the conclusions ,after more then 2 years experience, is this a enviroment to daily living and how expensiv can it be a new one.

  3. Andreas Kalpakides
    March 24, 2016
    Reply

    well, ill go for something like that in time. this thing is soundproof, let alone there could be a purification unit for the air, and with all this outer surface, you can even gather water

  4. C.E. SCHLINK
    March 28, 2016
    Reply

    The Danes are amazing designers!!

  5. razony
    March 29, 2016
    Reply

    Is it me, but what about not spending the money to build a house in a house!
    They do make homes out of geodesic domes!
    Serious, I seen it on the internet!

  6. Steven Reekmans
    April 2, 2016
    Reply

    How maintenance heavy is the cleaning of the dome, does it get very dirty over a year? And how much did it cost to construct the dome? That's probably not cheap or something you can do on your own.

  7. sportlol
    April 6, 2016
    Reply

    I'm curious what happens when you fill the space with people, specially when cold outside. Is opening the roof enough to get rid of all the water vapor?

  8. FrozenEternity
    April 10, 2016
    Reply

    I would like this is great for cold and wet countries.
    Fasinating

  9. SolarizeYourLife
    April 21, 2016
    Reply

    I hope this is a long term study, and not a short term demo… yes, I would love to live in it…as long as it has solar powered systems, too…

  10. romanticshadow s
    April 25, 2016
    Reply

    okay so this whole video they dont even show the inside of the house, what the heck

  11. Elias Illeris Poggi
    May 2, 2016
    Reply

    Hey Kirsten.. I built a tinyhouse in Denmark, but it seems like you missed it 🙂

  12. Dufffaaa93
    May 12, 2016
    Reply

    But why?

  13. Jacob Edward
    May 14, 2016
    Reply

    I really love this idea. I'm curious how I might be able to get in contact with the host of the show. I've already inquired into my local county's codes on building requirements and they said that a geodesic dome would be categorized as a "irregular structure" which would then need special plans drawn up by a licensed engineer (we're planning on building this ourselves), regardless of there being plenty of high quality data available to anybody looking into how to do calculations and 3D designs with free software like sketchup… if we had to go with some other licensed designer, it might be interesting to see what other plans the host was playing around with, assuming his license would be acceptable here in the US

  14. Andre L
    May 29, 2016
    Reply

    I think it's not just the dome that we have to consider but the buildings inside the dome. Having a single-family home inside the dome is a waste of space. Its a more efficient to have a building that utilizes the maximum amount of space for multiple occupants. The way we build our cities would have to be drastically reconsidered to accommodate cost-effective living. I am not saying I am against domes or buildings in domes. I am saying that we have to change our thinking on buildings in the future.

  15. Solar
    July 4, 2016
    Reply

    "There's no chemicals in it" EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS.

  16. Sold to be Diers
    August 7, 2016
    Reply

    Back in 1958 when i was but a six year old pup here in Fort Worth Texas… one of these domes was built out of aluminum, where it still stands today amidst the 1936 model Will Rogers Memorial Center Complex. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Ma%C3%B1ana
    i can recall all the unjustified negative comments that abounded back then, mostly due again to it's proximity to the 1936 model architectures. It's very possible that if land accesses to build upon continues it's dwindle… oceanic water body real estate placements of these designs may well ring true to Bucky's forecasting's of such Aquatics.
    "There is only one revolution tolerable to all men, all societies, all political systems:
    revolution by design and invention." -Buckminster Fuller -gilpin 8-7-16

  17. Mazda rx7
    September 14, 2016
    Reply

    Nice idea , but how much would it cost.

  18. Brian Lockwood
    October 9, 2016
    Reply

    Lovely video but sad the dome isn't in Copenhagen any more, do you know where they moved it too? I'm hoping not far from the city center as I'd like to be able to bike to it.

  19. Alex Reyes
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    So damned cool! Solid engineering and creativity to help meet the demands of a changing world.

  20. and then i said
    October 21, 2016
    Reply

    If you lived there and someone took a stinky poop… you're doomed. Awesome ventilation.

  21. Bjarke Rugsted
    October 23, 2016
    Reply

    Jeg er helt væk i denne ide! kan slet ikke få nok

  22. Scottybeammeup2
    November 4, 2016
    Reply

    Where can i buy a kit to build a smaller one?

  23. sunsetlights100
    November 6, 2016
    Reply

    Interesting video and domes are meant to be the most beneficial structure to live & i noted the house under dome mimics flat earth firmament model.

  24. TheDepepe
    December 5, 2016
    Reply

    @Kirsten Dirksen Hello Kirsten, could you please tell me how thick the polycarbonate sheets are? What is the trademark Lexan? Do you know the cost of the entire project? Many thanks

  25. Cetok01
    January 9, 2017
    Reply

    I love the concept. Some thoughts:

    Are the polycarbonate panels UV-resistant? How often would they have to be replaced in a more sunny environment? Do they get weaker or more fragile over time? How good is their fire resistance (e.g., forest or brush fire in the country, nearby dwelling fire or arson in the city)?

    Have you considered using a steel hexagonal frame for the shell doors? That should add more strength than the rectangle with less mass per element, and would be more intrinsic to the overall structure. (You could insert a conventional door frame within it, and even add sidelights.)

    One could also hang solar panels from the shell in a pattern to block direct sunlight within (for sunnier regions), or on the solid house walls (although, there are developments in transparent solar panels, which would be prime for the outer shell).

  26. Dan Barclay
    January 13, 2017
    Reply

    bit silly impractical shape to build prone to leaks

  27. murat borchaev
    January 15, 2017
    Reply

    The idea is amazing! I'd love to have such stucture of my own house, but the area I live in is so windy. The question is how to wash all that glass materal when it gets dirty by dust and sorry for word, birds poo?)))

  28. Barb Redgreen
    February 8, 2017
    Reply

    This must be the most exciting futuristic project I have ever seen

  29. John Boy Sr.
    February 10, 2017
    Reply

    Won't work, TOOOoo hot during the summer! It's a hot house.

  30. Jeremy McReynolds
    February 20, 2017
    Reply

    Today on great, forward thinking ideas that would never be allowed by American building codes….

  31. Bjarke Rugsted
    March 19, 2017
    Reply

    is there a part two to this video? i mean a follow up from, i believe Stockholm?? I would really appreciate that 🙂

  32. Ivan Erić
    March 29, 2017
    Reply

    Exellent !

  33. Wigy Ramadhan
    April 15, 2017
    Reply

    Do anyone know what is the size of this dome?

  34. Charles Torruella
    April 19, 2017
    Reply

    honestly all there is to this dome is a foundation some wood ,that looks to be 1×6,and some plexiglass. there is not much to this dome and i know it didnt take much money to build it.and look at what you have why isnt more poeple doing this as cheap as it is and strong as hell it would be great house for hurricanes if it had plywood inside of plexiglass

  35. halley0413
    April 23, 2017
    Reply

    Building a dome encapsulated house like this can not be about building at a low cost because it is obviously so much more expensive. It is about concept living that a person would build irrespective of the cost. It is like desalinating water at your own expense versus taking water directly from the tap at minimal cost. When more than two thirds of the worlds population live in poverty, this concept of building a home is plainly a pipe dream. But it is a dream worth pursuing nonetheless.

  36. Mick Gardner
    April 30, 2017
    Reply

    From the angle of a burglary, it's a perfect house to break into. Even a summer house is more secure against burglaries.
    In view of safety, fire is a big threat because it is toxic to inhale the smoke when there is fire in polycarbonate.
    Viewed from the nature side, hail weather and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are a big question of courage. Hail weather really sounds a lot on polycarbonate, so it will not be particularly good for small children or pets to listen to.
    Lightning thunderstorms could quickly become a ugly way of dying. The heat that lightning can develop is more than enough to melt polycarbonate into a polycarbonate coffin. In worst case. The
    tree shell under the polycarbonate plates is a lightning magnet, just like in nature, where the tallest tree is hit first by lightning.
    Had they built it of metal, the lightning will not come near the house itself, but be brought into the ground!

  37. Edgar Colmenero
    May 3, 2017
    Reply

    I live in Mexico…how could this work in hot weather?

  38. Nathan Ryweck
    May 13, 2017
    Reply

    This would work great in cold climates

  39. alphasxsignal
    June 2, 2017
    Reply

    Just live outside with nature

  40. Don Quixito
    June 5, 2017
    Reply

    like a house built in a dome I could do but a dome house not for me still interesting concept that I heard first reared up in the early seventys kinda surprising it's still being brought up

  41. Don Quixito
    June 5, 2017
    Reply

    where's that crazy concrete made from mushroom particles

  42. TheJunkyardgenius
    September 17, 2017
    Reply

    Why do we not have small communities under large domes by now especially in cooler climates.

  43. Mrs Silence DoGood
    September 28, 2017
    Reply

    Update

  44. Trumpenstein
    October 2, 2017
    Reply

    Crazy Danes. Talkin about "are people happy" and stuff like that. We would never do that in America.

  45. Tim Bradley
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    Meanwhile, back in my country we still have:
    (a) ridiculously large minimum house sizes; and
    (b) the biggest houses in the world (on average).

    * / Sigh / *

  46. BikeStuff
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    i love the concept, im from australia and id love one of these. on hot summer nights id love to be able to lay under that dome in a storm and watch the rain / play some music etc. its almost perfect harmony with nature.

  47. Larry Markham
    December 13, 2017
    Reply

    How would you heat the dome? Geothermal Maybe?

  48. Colmp G
    December 16, 2017
    Reply

    What happens when you cook?, Is there an exhaust system?

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