Dome Portfolio

This section contains descriptions and pictures of some of the dome and other geometrical projects that Walt and his friends have completed. This web site has recently been expanded, and many of the projects shown here now have their own pages. These pages show details of construction, and instructions on duplicating the projects yourself. Click on underlined titles of projects to go to the linked page.

While there are many innovations that my friends and I have applied to the projects in this portfolio, I must pause to pay tribute and give thanks to all those dome pioneers who have gone before us. Many of these projects were inspired by or based on accounts of other peoples' projects, many documented in hard-to-find sources like the DomeBooks I and II. As Isaac Newton might have said, had he said it, "If I have seen farther, it is because I have stood on the domes of giants!"In any event, my goal here is to document and explain the various projects so as to allow others to easily duplicate these efforts and (better still) use our efforts as a starting point to create new dome projects. Carpe dome!

Fiberglass 2f Dome

This dome is constructed from struts of 3/4 inch inside diameter fiberglass tubing, the kind sometimes used now for broom handles. The connectors are made from short lengths of 1/2" diameter thin-wall steel tubing.

Photo of 2f Fiberglass Dome

Walt hangs from a swing when the dome was set up at a dome meeting in San Diego. This dome is about 17 feet (5.2 meters) in diameter. Click on the picture for a larger version of this image.

PVC Domes

These basket weavestyle domes are constructed from struts of 3/4 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe, the kind used commonly in home irrigation systems. The pieces are joined using special swiveling connectors made from short rods and small pieces of the PVC tubing.

Picture of 21.5 foot dome

Walt's friend Joe Sterling rests inside the small PVC dome when it was set up in San Diego's Balboa Park. This dome is about 21.5 feet (6.5 meters) in diameter.

Picture of 42 foot dome

Here are (L-R) Will Ackel, Michael Fisher, and Walt Venable inside the large PVC dome when it was set up at a park in Leucadia, California. This dome is about 42 feet (12.7 meters) in diameter.

Kiddle Sticks

Kiddle Sticks is the name that I've given to a system of 1/4" dowels and plastic tubing connectors. This system is very flexible and allows construction of various types of domes as well as many other geometrical shapes.

Dome made from Kiddle Sticks

At the 1996 Earth Fair in San Diego. This little girl was writing a report on Buckminster Fuller for school and was able to build her own dome!

Steel Tubing Dome

This dome is constructed from struts of 3/4" diameter thin-wall steel tubing.

Walt in hammock hung in steel tubing dome

Walt rests in a hammock strung inside a 2-frequency steel tubing some. This dome is about 17 feet (5.2 meters) in diameter. Click on the picture for a larger version of this image.

Basket Weave Dome Models

This basket weave dome model is constructed from strips of plastic window blinds. Holes are punched at appropriate intervals and brads are used to join the strips together.

Model of basket weave dome

This dome model is about 15" in diameter. Click on the picture for a larger version of this image.

Wooden Dome

This dome is built using individually constructed faces which are then bolted together.

Exterior of front of wooden dome

Front view of a wooden dome which now serves as Walt's workshop. This dome is about 24 feet (7.3 meters) in diameter. Click on the picture for a larger version of this image.

Tire Dome

Since there are countless used tires discarded each year, we thought it would be nice to try turning them into dome-shaped playground equipment for kids. We based our design on a truncated icosahedron (the soccer ball shape), replacing each of the pentagons and hexagons with an appropriately-sized old tire. Shown below is a picture of the structure as far as we got it, a smaller tire on top (representing a pentagon) with five larger tires (representing hexagons) around it. We drilled 1/2 inch holes through the tires using a hole saw (a special drill bit with a cylindrical, toothed bit) and then fastened the adjacent tires together using 1/2" thick bolts. We used big washers on the bolts on either side of the tires to keep the bolts from pulling through the rubber.

Photo of Tire Dome

Here are (L-R) Walt Venable and Kirk Van Allynposing with the partial Tire Dome in front of Walt's old garage.

Unfortunately we found that in the partial structure that we finished, the tires were much too flexible to form a satisfactorily rigid structure. The six tire grouping shown here would actually collapse under its own weight, forming a flat array of tires. The only way we could keep it from collapsing was to run a steel cable in a ring around the bottom of the tires. With this reinforcement, it would just support my weight but if I jumped on it then it would still deform and collapse. I still think it would be a really cool piece of really cheap playground equipment. Be warned, though, drilling holes in tires and muscling them into odd arrangements is hot, tiring work. By the time we got those six tires bolted together we were quite exhausted!

After I posted this picture originally, Robert A. Beezerwrote to me letting me know about his page at he shows wonderful pictures of many tire domes that were actually completed. The domes, called Playdomes, were originated as long ago as 1972 and it seems to be quite a successful concept, judging by the results on his page! (It's still a lot of work!). Be sure and check out Rob's cool site.

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