Prominent Figures in Air Structure History: R. Buckminster Fuller
There are many different types of domes in use throughout the world and they all have interesting development histories. Years before air-supported domes became common, geodesic domes began to dot the landscape. These structures use a geometric formula to fashion a sphere out of triangles. This might sound preposterous, but it’s actually quite brilliant.
Geodesic domes were revolutionary because they offer a great deal of enclosed space, while using relatively little in terms of construction materials. Designed to approximate a perfect sphere, they do not require any internal columns or supports. They also take up much less floor area than a conventional building occupying the equivalent space. The style makes them much easier to heat or cool, which can mean considerable savings.
The credit for the first dome of this type goes to Walter Bauersfeld, a German engineer who supervised the creation of a planetarium in 1926 on behalf of the Zeiss company. However, it was American R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller who really demonstrated the possibilities of this new form of structure.
A Noble Goal
American focused a huge amount of its manufacturing might on World War II. When the conflict finally ended, the country found itself with a housing shortage. Fuller felt geodesic domes could provide an excellent answer to the problem, thanks to the reduced construction time and supplies required.
His first attempt in 1948 failed, due to the use of materials lacking sufficient strength. However, increasingly durable and lightweight alternatives soon surfaced and these offered Fuller the degree of support and firmness necessary for the dome to function. While Fuller’s original plan for the housing domes didn’t pan out because of problems unrelated to his design, he was certainly not about to give up on such a promising concept.
Fuller created a company called Geodesics Inc. and the government asked him to create a smaller version of his dome for the Marines to use. The structures were very effective and Fuller received patents for his design.
Geodesic domes also became more common for other uses, though not on a massive scale. However, Fuller’s contributions to architecture kept him in demand throughout the rest of his career. He founded a new firm with Shoji Sadao called Fuller & Sadao, and the company went on to create the awe-inspiring dome that was the centerpiece of the US Pavilion at Expo 67.
Influence and Legacy
While his pet project didn’t become the widespread form of housing Fuller envisioned, geodesic domes have endured.
Even though they have been around for decades, they are still unique enough to be eye-catching and seem no less futuristic decades after their North American debut.
As geodesic domes offer an extremely sustainable type of structure, their popularity will almost certainly increase as this sort of design consideration is becoming increasingly important. Fuller’s devotion to material efficiency and energy conservation also influenced other pioneers to devote their time and expertise to improving upon current models.
While committed to helping provide effective, inexpensive housing, Fuller also dedicated his time to tackling issues related to science, geometry, cartography, and education. His accomplishments in these fields received substantial recognition in the academic community. He also held 28 patents and wrote an equivalent number of books. True to his belief in the effectiveness of the design, Fuller lived in his own geodesic dome in Carbondale, Illinois.
As you have no doubt heard by now, Canada has a very special day coming up. On July 1st, 1867, we officially became a country, and our 150th birthday is almost upon us. There are many creative and fun celebrations planned from coast-to-coast, but one of the most ambitious is Participaction 150.
Participaction: Canada’s Health Program
Established in 1971, Participaction is a federally funded initiative that encourages Canadians to exercise and think about their overall health. The program became quite well-known, thanks to its many creative TV spots, the most famous of which pointed out that the average sixty-year-old Swede was in better shape than a Canadian half that age.
After a period of inactivity, Participaction returned in 2007 and we need it more than ever. According to the Heart and Stoke Foundation of Canada, 60% of Canadians and 25% of Canadian children are overweight. People say time is a factor preventing them from sufficient exercise, but there is also the fact that it often cannot compete with activities that require less effort and offer more fun. Organizers of Participaction 150 hope to change that attitude by introducing Canadians to many healthy activities that they might not know.
The Participaction 150 Play List
In preparation for this ambitious project, Participaction consulted with Canadians about what to include. Tabulating the votes of a half million participants, the organization chose 150 activities and challenged Canadians to partake in as many of them as possible.
It’s a wonderful plan because it offers a way to celebrate this Canada milestone in a manner that is good for everyone. Canadians can also have the opportunity to try things that they either might not have considered or would not normally have available in their area.
What Would You Like to Try?
With this being a list inspired by Canadian traditions, some of the choices are obvious: curling, dog sledding, downhill skiing, the polar bear dip, fishing, 5-pin bowling, snow fort building, and, of course, hockey (which is #99 on the list in honour of a certain Edmonton Oilers player). An honorary position goes to basketball because, as we covered here recently, it was actually invented by a Canadian!
There are also activities that the typical Canuck can enjoy regularly, such as running, softball, golf, cycling, football, billiards, gymnastics, and Tai Chi. However, it is the less obvious entries that can provide the most excitement and adventure.
Feeling Bold? Here’s Your Chance!
Sure, you enjoy going for the occasional dip at the cottage, but have you tried water polo? How about paddle boarding, synchronized swimming, aquafit, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, or white-water rafting?
More interested in getting that workout on dry land? Perhaps archery, fencing, hula hooping, Pilates, squash, cricket, broomball, potato sack racing, or shuffleboard?
Really want to test your limits? There is always boxing, roller derby, rock climbing, tree climbing, wrestling, the triathlon, or the Inuit tradition of knuckle hopping (ouch!). The possibilities really are numerous. You can find the complete 150 Play List here.
Physical benefits are not the only plus; through tracking your accomplishments online, partakers receive entries that give them the chance to win trips, vehicles, and more. See? Fitness is not always its own reward!
Continue Your New Passion
Did Participaction 150 introduce you to an activity that has now become a personal favourite? Some of these are tough to enjoy during the winter months…that is, unless you have an air-supported dome in the area. Domes allow for a number of Participaction 150 selections, like soccer, tennis, football, lacrosse, golf, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, badminton, basketball, and even Quidditch, at any time of the year in climate-controlled comfort with absolutely no worries about the weather.
Whatever activities you decide upon, be sure to do them regularly. Maintaining your health depends on spending at least 30 minutes per day on the move. Domes help to ensure that venues for many different activities are accessible all year round.
Have you ever tried to tell a friend about how great air-supported domes are only to be told, “Eh, they’re only good for tennis.” You know it’s not true and it’s time they —and anyone else unfamiliar with these engineering marvels—knew the truth. To that end, we have assembled a handy list of 15 things you can do in a bubble besides playing tennis.
One of the most beloved sports, soccer becomes challenging to play in this part of the world when the thermostat starts plunging. Not the case in a dome: if you have always thought about playing soccer over the Christmas holidays, you no longer need to fly to Florida. Here are five reasons why you should be playing soccer indoors.
Another sport that is seasonal in Canada, but season-free in a dome. Need to work on your putt or your drive? Put in some dome time over the winter so you can more than hold your own come springtime. Who wouldn’t love to have a course and a clubhouse under one roof?
You need very little equipment to play basketball, but it is always more fun to play in a warm and dry area. Learn more about basketball’s health benefits here.
Tennis too rigorous for you? Want to do something with good health benefits, but does not work up quite as much of a sweat? Trade that ball for a bird! If anyone kids you about your love of badminton, remind them it is an Olympic sport played in domes.
Looking for a way to burn off those Christmas calories? Volleyball is a wonderful sport to choose if your goal is to stay fit and build your muscles. Read about the Volleydome, where skilled players prepare themselves for Olympic competition.
If your friend who mentioned tennis above thinks that domes cannot accommodate a “man’s man” game like rugby, he would be wrong again. Go here to learn about playing rugby in a dome.
It may not be an Olympic sport, but paintball is a popular pastime that can provide a real workout and you don’t need a large field or forest. Not convinced? Here are five reasons to play paintball in a dome.
OK, so yes, domes are great for quite a few sporting activities. But that’s it, right? No!
11. Birthday Parties
Don’t want to deal with a mob of kids in your home or yard? Domes provide a vast space for them to run around and burn off all of that sugar-induced energy without tearing up your garden or scaring your cat to death. Plan your child’s next birthday party in a no fuss, controlled environment.
Have a big family? We all love to get together over the holidays, but between little kids, big kids, and all of those adults, things can get very crowded. The Farley Group held its annual children’s Christmas party in the most fun place we could think of: our own air dome.
14. Summer Camp
Going to summer camp is a cher
ished part of childhood for many kids. Well, except for the parts where it rained so much you had to go inside. Several facilities figured out a great way around Mother Nature by including summer camp programs on their dome schedules.
One of the great things about air-supported domes is the ease with which they can be erected. However, quite a bit of planning is necessary before the addition of one to an area. Here are some of the first steps involved in dome creation.
Determining the Need
One of the main appeals of a bubble is the low cost compared to a conventional structure. However, it’s still important for a company, town, or city to figure out their dome’s primary purpose and where they want it located. For example, if the idea is to offer a facility for young people to play sports, the location should ideally be somewhere near where many of them live. The dome is likely to get more use that way, rather than relying on the youth to take the bus or receive transportation back and forth from parents.
Choosing a Site and Dome Dimensions
Domes are quite versatile, and work just as well in the country as they do in the city. However, there are some considerations. What is the planned purpose of the dome and how much space is needed for it?
If the dome is intended for a small town that simply wants an indoor soccer pitch, then that is comparatively little space.
If the intention is for the facility to host several different sports, including one or more at the same time, you’ll probably need a larger space. The accompanying parking lot will also be bigger. The Farley Group may work directly with other partners on such projects to determine the singular requirements for specialized builds, including an upcoming one in Detroit that will house a velodrome and recreation fields.
Air-supported domes may look more or less the same to casual observers, but each dome could have subtle differences. For example, depending on the primary activity, the entry points are in an entirely different spot. Farley personnel factor the area and intention into their planning and customize a design plan that will take best advantage of the space to give the best possible experience for users.
Creating the Foundation
While the materials used for the dome are relatively light, it still must be anchored in place. It isn’t enough to build a five-story building and not attach it firmly to a foundation. Domes are the same in this regard; they are much easier to take down and move, but they still need a solid foundation for the structure to work as intended.
Fabricating the Dome
Following the completion of these steps, we move on to the fabrication of the dome. The durable, vinyl-coated polyester fabric is fire and stain/fade resistant, but still fully customizable in colour and translucency.
Then, our construction specialists move on to such later stages as insulation, cabling, fabric welding, mechanical equipment installation, adding the entrances and exits, installing the interior lighting, et cetera. For a detailed description of the process from start to finish, read this about Air Structure Components[http://www.thefarleygroup.com/Components.htm].
If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of what you need to consider before getting started (including the cost), contact us directly or download our whitepaper right now!
Indoor Extreme Sports: Three Extreme Ideas for You Multi-Sports Dome
If you’re looking for some new sports and activities to offer in your dome, why not add a sport with a bit of an edge?
Extreme sports aren’t new, but the excitement for them is as strong as ever. A huge—typically younger—audience is looking for that rush, why not offer those activities in the safety and comfort of a dome? Here are a few sports and activities that work perfectly under an air-structure.
This one might take a bit more work to setup, but the skateboards are still just as popular as ever. While skating has moved closer to the mainstream, it can sometimes be tough for skateboarders to find a safe place that they’re allowed to practice. With a smooth surface, a few ramps and pipes and you’re in business!
Of course, if your dome space is covered in turf, this may not be the best idea. But if you have a smooth concrete floor, it’s likely just begging for skaters to make use of. Indoor skate parks are few and far between but there’s a huge demand, especially in the winter months.
We’ve mentioned paintballing in a dome before on this blog, but it’s popular enough to warrant another mention.
Paintballer’s are passionate about their sport, but the appeal of paintball goes far beyond those die-hard paintballers.
Paintballing is also a popular sport for group events, parties, or corporate team outings.
Parkour! There was an episode of The Office in which Dwight, Michael, and Andy disrupted the entire office by climbing over desks and chairs, shouting “PARKOUR!”
The reality of the sport is a lot more exciting than seen on that tv show, though.
Parkour, or Free Running, is when a runner tries to get from point A to point B in the most efficient route possible. Point B is usually behind enough obstacles to make the feat both challenging and impressive to watch for spectators.
Like the skatepark idea, though, this would mean you’d need to build or find some obstacles. And any tall obstacles would likely need a crash mat to help break falls, should they happen.
These sports may not be in the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t popular. If you know there are extreme sportspeople’s in your community, you might want to consider adding one of the above activities to your multi sport dome. It doesn’t need to be a mainstream sport to be successful in a dome!
It may not rank with soccer on the worldwide popularity scale, but do not underestimate the ongoing appeal of basketball. Whether you just enjoy an occasional pick-up game or play in a local league, basketball is a regular part of many people’s health regime. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association, more Americans play basketball than any other sport: over 26 million. Even America’s National Pastime, baseball, doesn’t come close to that number!
Here is a brief history of basketball, with a connection to Canada you might not know about.
19th Century Origins
Compared to many sports, basketball is relatively new. The game as we know it was not only invented less than 150 years ago, but also by a Canadian! That’s right, one of America’s favourite pastimes is actually the work of a Canadian.
Dismayed by the number of injuries he was seeing, Ontario native Doctor James Naismith decided to create a game that offered excellent physical benefits without the risks that come from sports featuring physical contact. He also saw the value in a pastime people could play inside, thus allowing participants to enjoy it throughout the year.
Basketball: The Basics
Naismith created what came to be known as basketball in December of 1891, while he was in Springfield, Massachusetts. The nets consisted of peach baskets nailed ten feet above the ground and the ball was closer to one used for soccer.
Naismith’s game included 13 rules and two teams of nine players. The object of the game has remained the same: each team tries to throw the ball into the opposing squad’s basket. Eventually, someone decided to speed things up by putting a hole in each basket, thus allowing easier retrieval of the ball (the more familiar basketball hoop followed at the turn of the century).
The first official match occurred on December 21, 1891 and only a single basket was scored. Despite the fact it took place in the United States, 10 of the 18 players were students from Quebec.
Basketball Starts to Take Off
Fortunately, players soon got the hang of the game and the ball made it into the basket much more often. Basketball established itself as an exciting and physically enhancing sport both gifted athletes and common folk could enjoy.
The sport’s profile continued to grow. It became a demonstration event in 1904 and joined the Olympic roster in 1936, but for men only. Sadly, Women’s Basketball did not become an Olympic perennial until four decades later.
Surprisingly, it took a while for basketball to catch fire as an American league sport. The National Basketball Association was founded on August 3, 1949, the result of the competing Basketball Association of America (established in 1946) and the National Basketball League (established in 1937) joining forces. Even with this merger, however, the game struggled in popularity and did not begin gaining ground until the mid-50s, when the 24-second clock was added. This made basketball faster paced and more exciting, and attendance grew steadily.
Many Canadians enjoy playing basketball outside during the warmer months, but don’t let winter temperatures stop you from shooting hoops. Basketball is just one of many sports played year-round in air-supported domes! Many multi-sport facilities would be amiss to not include a couple of basketball nets.
The Perfect Place for an Air Dome: Why Air Domes Can be Built Nearly Anywhere
Early in the decision to build an air dome, a common question is, “Is this a good spot for a bubble?” Odds are that, yes, you can build an air dome there, and yes, we’ve most likely already done it before.
Whether it be a lone bubble in the middle of an empty field, or a dome squeezed into the heart of a city, domes are remarkably adaptable. Because of the simplicity of the design, it’s actually a lot easier to get a dome into some places than to build something out of steel and bricks.
Dome in the Country
Air supported structures are appealing when you’re looking to build something big. And the best place to build something big is where you have a lot of space. The problem though, is that building something large like an indoor sports complex, can be a challenge.
Big buildings typically need lots of materials, lots of time, and lots of money. This isn’t true for an air supported structure, though. Domes don’t need near as many materials to build. After the foundation is built, the fabric for an air dome takes up very little room at all. This makes them ideal for transporting long distances.
If you need to build a large indoor sports facility in a remote location, bringing in an air dome might be the simplest, and best, solution.
Dome in the City
Modern cities are so jam-packed that it’s hard to fit in anything new, especially when it’s something as big as an air dome. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t done it.
Historically, the way to make the most of the limited space in a city is to build up. Tall buildings mean more floors for more offices and apartments for people to live and work in. It’s the footprint that matters when building in a city.
When looking for a place to put an indoor tennis or soccer facility, it can be tricky to find a spot with a large enough footprint to give players and athletes the room they need to play and train.
Luckily, air domes are a perfect solution to make the most of unused spaces. Bubbles have been installed on top of other structures like short buildings or parking structures. Of course, there’s a limit to how high a dome can be installed—you wouldn’t want one high up on a windy, swaying sky-scraper—but plenty of unused rooftops have been converted to indoor tennis courts.
You can even place air domes over unused parking lots. And if the city ever needs that parking space back, the dome can be deflated and quickly taken away.
And finally, building a dome inside the heart of a city is a lot easier than building another brick and mortar facility. The hassle of obstructing traffic, and getting in people’s way is much less when building a dome that can be brought in on a single truck.
Wherever you’re looking to build a dome, it’s always going to be a perfect fit!
When the weather heats up, athletes of all ages flock to the playing field. Tennis pros break out the racquets, volleyball players hit the beach, and the soccer season kicks into high gear.
However, there are downsides to playing in the summer heat. To start, you need to take steps to protect from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Some athletes (particularly tennis players) feel sunscreen and sunglasses interfere with their performance. The temperature can also be a problem, as the heat puts players at risk of overheating and dehydration.
The solution? Bring the game inside. Playing in an air dome offers all the fun of summer sports with none of the drawbacks. Here are some of the features making it easy to stay cool under an air dome.
Beat the Heat
Ever notice how black surfaces heat up under the sun? If you have ever played a game on the pavement, you will know just how hot it can get. This is because dark colours absorb sunlight and convert it into heat energy. Lighter colors, on the other hand, reflect some of the energy back. A light surface will still heat up, but at a slower rate than a darker one.
Farley domes benefit from this effect. The outer layer of the dome is covered in architectural-grade vinyl that’s usually white. When sunlight falls on the surface of an air-supported dome, the white fabric reflects much of the sun’s rays. As a result, the air dome does not heat up as fast as other structures.
The dome’s outer membrane is also treated to guard against UV radiation, so both the surface of the dome and the players inside are fully protected from the sun.
Keep the Cool Air In
Once the dome is nice and cool, you can be sure it will stay that way all summer long. The dome itself consists of outer layer and an inner layer, with a layer insulation sandwiched in between. It creates a barrier that keeps the cool air in and the heat out.
You can’t feel it, but the air pressure inside of an air-supported dome is kept slightly higher than the outside atmosphere. To prevent the pressurized air from escaping, the entrances and exits to the dome include revolving doors and pedestrian airlocks. This has the added benefit of keeping the cool air from leaking out when people come and go.
Control Your Climate
Controlling the climate in a Farley dome is simple. A mechanical system inside the dome controls and monitors the quality of air pumped into the structure, including the temperature. This system circulates fresh air throughout the dome, while a powerful air conditioning unit is able to keep it at a consistent temperature.
Players will feel comfortable inside the dome from the moment they step through the doors. There is no need to worry about sunburns, dehydration, or humidity. You can keep a cool head and focus on winning the game.
Nothing beats playing your favourite sport on a beautiful summer day — except playing in a fully air-conditioned dome.
If you’ve ever played paintball indoors, you’re more than aware that indoor paintball can be hit and miss. Compared to outdoors, you are much more limited by the amount of space. The best indoor paint facilities are in places like hangars, or warehouses. Any place where you have the room to actually run and hide.
But have you ever thought about paintball in an air dome? When you think about it, an air structure is actually the perfect place for indoor paintball. Here are a few reasons why.
When you play paintball outdoors you are limited to playing in whatever terrain is there, without being able to add a ton of variety to your games. If you play on a frequent basis, you and your friends may come to know the playing area so well that the games lack the element of surprise or unknown hiding places.
This is actually not the case if you play paintball in air domes. Someone has to construct the indoor playing field, meaning they can change the position of the rocks, small cover buildings, fake trees, et cetera. This customizable terrain adds a decent variety to your paintball games.
No Weather Concerns
Have your paintball games outside ever been cancelled because of a thunderstorm or other extreme weather conditions? Playing paintball inside air domes greatly reduces, and may even eliminate, the chance your paintball games will be cancelled because of the weather. Just suit up as you normally would and enter the dome prepared to shoot paint everywhere!
Paintball All Year
Like other sports, playing paintball in an air dome means you and your friends have the ability to engage in the fun of paintball throughout the entire year. You are not limited to one season, which can happen when you play paintball outdoors.
Control Over Timing
Sometimes when you are playing outside, you are at the mercy of nature’s timing, or even time itself (e.g. when it gets dark outside). Playing paintball in air domes, however, helps give you more control over the timing of your games. For instance, you can limit the game to a certain period, which comes in handy if you and your friends have other obligations.
You can also play past the time the sun goes down, since you have the ability to light up the dome so everyone can still maintain good visibility.
Do you ever just want a drink or a small snack before or after you play paintball? Do you wish there were other facilities, such as changing rooms or good bathrooms? Playing indoor paintball lets you and your friends enjoy these creature comforts much easier than if you were all playing in the great outdoors. Depending on the rules you set for your game, you may even be able to take a break if the game is going long to grab a drink of water or eat a granola bar.
Now that seasonal domes are put away for the summer, everyone could use a reminder on how to stay safe while playing sports. While the nice weather is a strong motivator to play outside, more people outside playing sports also increases the potential for injuries and other accidents.
To make sure you play summer sports safely, here are some simple, but effective, summer sport safety tips to integrate into your regular routine.
Wear Recommended Attire
Many sports have safety gear or, at the very least, recommended clothing to ensure you are comfortable as well as safe during your activity. For instance, many will recommend wearing knee pads for summer sports like beach volleyball. You would also want to wear loose fitting, breathable clothing (e.g., shorts and a t-shirt) during the summer for sports, so you do not overheat and have the room to move.
Another popular summer sport is biking, and regardless of how good you happen to be at it, you should always wear a helmet while riding. This will protect you in case something happens! It is always better to act with safety in mind, rather than risk preventable injuries.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Whenever you play summer sports, make sure to keep an eye out for the people around you. Not paying attention to your surroundings can not only result in injuries for others, but also for yourself.
In addition to this, if you have children, it is important for you to keep an eye out for them so they don’t toddle into an area they should stay out of. While older children can keep watch on their own surroundings, younger children generally need parental assistance. Regardless of the situation, though, another set of eyes never hurt.
Remember To Warm Up
While warming up is a common exercise tip, many people forget they should also warm up before summer sports like volleyballs games, rounds on a tennis court, or soccer matches. You can just as easily overexert yourself if you forget to warm up first, which can lead to pulled muscles, twisted ankles, strains, and other injuries. Thus, take time to stretch your muscles and lightly jog on the spot before you begin playing a summer sport.
If you are playing summer sports in the heat and sun, you need to pay particular attention to how much water you are drinking. As you play, your body will work up a sweat, and you will need to drink more water to replace what you are losing. Try bringing a water bottle with you so you can refill it as necessary. If you are going to be playing summer sports regularly and for extended periods, you may also wish to consider drinks with added electrolytes. Just pay attention to the sugar content on sports drinks, and intersperse them with water.
If you are playing summer sports outside, never forget to apply sunscreen. The immediate concern is, of course, getting a sunburn, but by not wearing sunscreen you are opening yourself for potentially serious and lasting effects.
Pick a sunscreen appropriate for you. Pay attention to the SPF value and aim for at least 30. Go higher if you find you burn quite easily. You should also reapply throughout the day, particularly after swimming, even if it says it is waterproof.
Of course, if the sun is too strong or there are other dangers that make an area unsuitable for outdoor play, you can always move that game into a dome. Domes make great indoor sport venues, even in the summer!