14 May What’s the Hype Behind Dome Homes? Why Do People Like Them?
You may not be aware there is “hype” behind dome homes but there certainly is. I’m listing a dome home soon. This got me curious about the history of dome homes and how they differ from traditional houses. Other than their unique eye-catching design, the dome shape yields tangible benefits. Romans used domes way back in 100 AD. This shape is in other cultures too, like the Hagia Sophia.
This building’s strikingly tall dome stacked on other domes is truly a marvel of human achievement. Another example is the capitol building in Minneapolis. Many capitol buildings are shaped like ancient Roman buildings as a nod to the beginning of democracy, but also because this design is one of the sturdiest there is. Domes have a long architectural history for good reason.
The dome shape is one of the sturdiest shapes in nature. How Stuff Works.com says “Much of that durability results from the characteristics of triangles, which are the superheroes of shapes. Triangles are the strongest shape because they have fixed angles and don’t distort very easily.” Modern dome homes are made from joining triangles together. Domes are the only architectural shape that actually gets proportionally stronger the larger it is. This is why you see such large domes on capitol buildings and classical architecture. The secret is equal distributional of weight.
We’re talking about physics but I’ll try to be brief and simple. There are two forces at work. One is meridional forces, which are like the longitude (vertical) lines on a globe. The other is hoop forces which are like latitude (horizontal) lines. Meridional forces solely use compression which increases towards the bottom of the structure. Hoop forces use compression and tension. The compression in hoop forces is greatest at the top and the tension is strongest at the bottom. When the two forces are combined it gives domes a perfectly even compression from top to bottom. The typical rectangular shaped home has two different lengths meaning there are uneven compression forces. This is why a dome is so much stronger than a rectangle.
These homes are naturally energy efficient. The first reason is the concave inner structure allows heat and air to circulate naturally. Next, there is about 30% less surface area on a dome home. The reduced surface area of the exterior means the home absorbs less heat and cold from outside. Finally, the dome’s aerodynamic shape lessens the turbulence of extreme wind, which steals your house’s heat and drags it off into the Minnesota winter’s 4 pm pitch black night. If you need more convincing this structure is efficient, think of homes built in extreme temperatures like Igloos in the Canadian Arctic. Buckminster Fuller Institute, which studies and promotes innovation in various fields including architecture, says, “Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.” Today dome homes are especially popular in the dry and hot regions of America.
That special feeling
A dome-shaped house is striking with its uniqueness. By default, any way you decorate the home looks special and right out of a designer home magazine. Like every home, there are some drawbacks. Dome homes have less flat wall space for photos or art. In addition, fitting shelving into a dome can be tricky but not impossible. You may have to invest a little for shelving but all the money you’re saving with a dome’s efficiency can cover that. The high ceilings create an open and light atmosphere. However, as with any open floor plan, noises are carried and amplified a little, but on the plus side, you’d have free surround sound!
From ancient Rome to hobbit homes, dome homes have a well-loved place in architecture. Domes are a classic structure in human history due to their strength and natural energy efficiency. Because dome homes are rare, they are special and quirky. If you find dome homes as charming as I do check out my upcoming listing;
Be sure to read some of my other blog posts including:
If you have any questions, please let me know, I’m always happy to help. You can give me a call at 612-889-6496 or send an email to [email protected]