Air structures seem like they go up quickly, but it might take longer than you think. There’s a common misconception that a dome can be set-up and inflated within a matter of days. In reality, there’s a lot of work done behind the scenes—hidden from those outside the project. What onlookers are most likely to notice is actually the last stage of setting up a dome. The laying out and inflating of the bubble.
Designing a dome
Before any work can get started, most domes will require a fair amount of design work. Because bubbles can be used in so many different ways (tennis bubbles, soccer domes, multi sport facilities, etc.), a large majority of projects need to be custom designed to fit the specific requirements needed for the space.
Domes can be large or small, have unique entry systems, or even consist of multiple bubbles. Air domes can cover any surface—such as concrete, turf, or even swimming pools—and the bubble needs to be designed to meet the unique requirements of each.
This stage of dome building can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a month, depending on the complexity and needs of the facility. No work can get started until all parties are ready to go. Having a strong plan in place helps to make things run smoothly.
Laying a Dome Foundation
The first step of actual construction is to lay the foundation that the fabric of the air structure will attach to. Like any construction, the foundation is what holds everything else together.
The perimeter of a dome needs to extend down into the ground to firmly root the bubble in place. A deep concrete foundation is poured around the perimeter and the anchoring system set in place. This is another step that can be easily missed. Anyone looking at a field might have no idea that tonnes of concrete is being poured in preparation.
Preparing the foundation can depend on the season and could take anywhere from a month to several months.
Fabricating a Dome
Another hidden step is actually fabricating the dome. Read more here about how we create the bubble itself.
This step requires a lot of meticulous, hard work but with a great team and a solid execution strategy, it goes relatively quickly. Depending on the size, a very small dome could take a few days or a large dome could take as long as five weeks.
The Last Step: Inflating a Dome
Once the foundation is set and the fabric is ready to go, it’s just matter of setting up the dome, installing the inflation system and blowing it up.
The final fabric welds, stretching out the fabric, and securing it to the foundation usually takes a few days, including time for final inspection. Once this is done though, it’s time for the most exciting part: inflating the dome!
This is what draws the crowds. With all fans running, a dome will inflate within a couple of hours.
From the outside perspective, if you only see the last stage, it’s easy to think that air supported structures take no time at all to build. Of course, this isn’t true because of all the unseen preparatory work that goes into them. Compared to brick and mortar construction, bubbles can go up in a flash, but they do take a bit of time to get just right.