Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Houston Dome

If you've ever watched MegaStructures on Nat Geo, you might have also come across Extreme Engineering and or Mega Engineering on the Discovery Channel. Some of my favorites include Tokyo's Sky City, the Transatlantic Tunnel, City in a Pyramid, and the City at Sea. But at the top of it all comes the Houston Dome - an insanely large geodesic dome with panels made of ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) just like with the Eden Project, but this time to cover an entire city.

What I admire about it is how some of my own city designs utilize this concept even before I knew about the Houston Dome, so it was good to see that there are urban/social designers and architects thinking on similar lines. Not only are such domes earthquake proof, but hurricane proof. The ETFE is also great at resisting high temperatures and can be easily repaired, and compared to glass, it is 99% lighter.

Here's some basic illustrated details of the dome:

You can watch videos of the Houston Dome directly from the Discovery Channel website here (there's 4 parts, 2-3 minutes each; I was trying to find a way of downloading the videos but with little success).

There's also an 8 minute version on YouTube but still not the complete episode. Nevertheless it is still pretty awesome.

Here are a few snapshots taken from the videos:

Close up of construction
Underneath the dome during construction, fitting the ETFE panels
Dome completed, illustrated in poor weather
Here the fitting of the ETFE panels can be witnessed from the outside
Ariel view of construction
Depiction of panel failure during harsh weather
ETFE is so strong it can even be stood on without breaking
Illustrating the tripple ETFE layer for extra protective effect
Depicting the space structure for additional strength to the frame
Close up of space frame joints
ETFE panels against the elements
From outside the dome is visible but from inside it would be hard to see
Dome construction from outside
Temperature control is automatic - with +15% energy savings
I might have little doubt that the Houston Dome was inspired by this,
that is, Buckminster Fuller's own proposal to cover Manhattan with a dome
One day we'd probably cover entire continents with such domes, but that's
extremely unlikely

1 comment:

  1. What would you hope that this dome would achieve/improve for those living beneath it? Just a general question!