How to Build a Geo-Dome from Bamboo… or Not?

Written By Louis Robinson

Geo Domes From Bamboo — Brilliant or the Bain of Our Existence?

Over the last 6 weeks the Leap academy have worked towards building a geodesic dome to grow, along with the design and construction of the dome we have researched and studied the methods and techniques necessary for growing white oyster mushrooms. Our project originated from a collective expression for the desire to construct a building, and through discussions with our project leaders and other faculty members we decided that geodesic domes encompassed all aspects of our desired design. According to a geodesic dome is, “ a dome constructed of short struts following geodesic lines and forming an open framework of triangles or polygons.” This alternative method was first proposed by Buckminster Fuller, however since the first publicized dome was built in 1926, materials and methods have changed. As a result of being surrounded by bamboo buildings we were automatically influenced by the thought of building our domes from bamboo struts, although later in the project we experienced the pain and suffering associated with bamboo building construction. These building difficulties gave as a special appreciation for the individuals who constructed the building we work in every day. We started off using given formulas to calculate the necessary lengths, after finding the lengths we purchased them from PT Bamboo. Initially we had discussed potential ideas for the connectors of the dome, however it wasn’t until we encountered the issue that we realised the complexity of using different size struts. Thankfully we had made contact with Ken Yolman, who has built over 30 different domes and worked in industry for many years. Through collaborating with Ken we were able to discuss some potential ideas, although he did express that he was not sure if any would actually work. After the meeting we agreed upon one idea, using a large piece of PVC pipe with multiple entry holes for the bamboo. Inside the bamboo we would place a floating piece of smaller PVC, which would be used to anchor all the bamboo. Once we had tested this system, we moved towards making all the connectors and reaching our end goal. However, this goal proved to be much harder to reach than we initially thought, even our ‘full-proof’ connectors were now proving to have their own problems. Finally, through further adjustments and group collaboration we were able to address the issues and work towards building a unique bamboo geodesic dome in the jungle.

Retaining Walls and Drainage Ditches

Due to the limited space available at Green School, Leap academy were forced to use a piece of land which proposed many difficulties. The combination of uneven land, already existing rock walls and water drainage made this a particularly difficult site to build our dome. However we didn’t let these challenges stop us, instead we had to design systems to address the issues. We started by removing the rock wall, then digging out the slope to make a surface which was suitable for a structure. Although after several large rainfalls we observed that contour of the surround land caused much of the drainage to run through the middle of our project. Each member proposed solutions, and through group discussion we decided that building a retaining wall would solve the drainage issue whilst also holding back the land that we had dug into. To construct this wall we calculated that we would need between 80 bricks, 1 bag of cement and half a bag of sand. After building this wall we quickly noticed that we had addressed the issue, and continued to move towards our goal.

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