Archive for January, 2009

Domebuilding: built!

Friday, January 30th, 2009


Sorry to keep you in suspense!  The cold I’m fighting has me too tired in the evenings to blog about the day’s events.  But to summarize …

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Domebuilding: Oops …

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I know what you’ve been thinking:

“That guy’s dome is too big.”

I’ve been in denial.  I’m sorry.

I plotted out the 32 foot floor plan, and eyeballed the rest.  But that third dimension is a bitch.  I’m bumping and scraping against the limbs of our three mighty trees, but that’s not even the problem — limbs are flexible.  The problem is, I’m now touching the overhead wire that delivers the Internet to my next-door neighbors. I hardly need tell you, The Internet, what it would mean for my neighbors’ quality of life if I accidentally severed that wire.

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Domebuilding: Day Six

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

90% done now, and the thing is hee-yuge!  I wish it had an upstairs.

More than half of my time in the last three days was spent driving around town, picking up bamboo from the yards of my friends.  There are now six varieties of bamboo in play, with different diameters and colors and traits.  It could get messy, but it seems to be holding up well.
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Domebuilding: Day Three

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

That’s a lie — my worker-elves and I spent some extra days collecting, cleaning and marking bamboo.  Lightbar eats more bamboo than a giant panda!  I need 170 sticks to complete the 5/8 dome and I’m still about 80 short.  But with what I have, I’m about done with Stage Five of the plan.

(Incidentally, that link is only one of several places online where you can find Bucky Fuller’s original plan transcribed.  Somewhere my mother has copies of the original Domebook that first published it.)
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Domebuilding: Day Two

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Hail Bamboo Satan!

I finished the first two stages this afternoon before I ran out of light, leaving a great big bamboo pentagram in the middle of my yard.  (I’m told this will repel Christians.)

Fuller’s plan would have me cut all the poles to a rough length after marking, but i’d really rather keep them whole, and somehow work the extra structure into the dome.  So far I seem to be getting away with it.  There’s always little extra bits of bamboo flopping around, but I can cope.
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Domebuilding: Day One

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Cleaning bamboo

The bamboo I’m working with is an interesting local variety; some call it “Oregon Bamboo” but I have no idea what the latin name is.  I harvested a bunch of this years ago, using a Forest Service permit to remove non-native species from parks.  Unlike store-bought, kiln-dried bamboo, this stuff doesn’t split and remains fairly flexible.  I love working with it.  It has an interesting anatomical feature: each node is armored with a single flat-growing leaf that wraps almost the entire surface.  So I have to “shell” each node by twisting the leaf until it breaks off.  Somehow it reminds me of unwrapping fine cigars.  Also, the leaves of this bamboo are slightly itchy — unless you’re allergic, like my friend Chet, in which case they’re extremely itchy and will cause you to break out in hives.  So no leaves, please.

Because I left my pile of bamboo sitting outside for years in slightly damp conditions, a black must began growing on the uncovered ends, feeding on the natural waxy coating of the bamboo.  So before I can use the stuff, I have to wash it off with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and some bleach.

Before. After.

Cleans up nice, don’t it?

Unfortunately, it looks like I don’t have nearly enough of the stuff to finish my dome.  I have some other bamboo, but it’s all either too stiff or too brittle.  Thursday I’m headed to my local State Park with a bamboo-cutting permit, hoping to bag 100 more sticks without significantly ruining the landscape.

Lightbar Rising …

Monday, January 12th, 2009


Watch this space!  High-rise coming soon!

This year, our seasonal affective disorder treatment center is relocating from a 40′ tetrahedron to a 32′ hemisphere — leapfrogging all the other platonic solids!  Corners are out, curves are in!

And so I get to build a geodesic dome — a rite of passage for architecture nerds.  I’ll be using Bucky Fuller’s famous bamboo plan, creating a 5/8 dome out of 170 sticks of bamboo and some duct tape.  This design works with the flexibility of bamboo to avoid the need for fancy joints.
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