Geodesic Geometries



Dr. Walther Bauersfeld developed in 1922 a geodesic dome for Carl Zeiss in Jena, Germany. He can be regarded as the inventor of the geodesic dome. In 1949 Richard Buckminster Fuller introduced the the geodesic dome to the world popularizing it in the ’60s, and was recognized for his creation. Since then several people have developed these concepts and have encouraged the self-construction of these spaces.

Geodesic and three-dimensional structures despite their resource use efficiency and speed of assembly, has never been popular because of the specific elements that supposedly “need” to produce for their construction. The products on the market are very expensive and difficult to find as they are exclusive of highly specialized companies. Normally only used in major infrastructures such as sports arenas, airports, etc.

This situation is paradoxical because the inventors of these systems designed them looking exactly for technologies for everybody with the aim of: “Creating more with less” and make it simple.

In fact this type of technology due of its versatility has been for many years the icon of alternative architecture and symbol of the freedom for each one to self build his own shelter, small towns were built with this system during the ’60s and ’70s..

After the experiences of Saltillo and Bustamante, in which we consolidate the knowledge of these geometries already begun in assemblies with friends, we began to investigate to propose new models that take account of current technologies and to meet the needs of a greater environmental respect implementing the recovery and reuse of unused materials or the use of natural and renewable materials.

The first occasion and pretext to put all that into practice emerged in 2011 in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. After a lecture on the work of Ctrl+Z at a local university we were invited to formulate a proposal for the construction of a “butterfly house” in the indigenous community of Choacahui.

Geodesic Butterfly VivariumThe aim was to contribute to the development and preservation of indigenous culture, promoting the values and natural resources of the community, and the use, conservation, protection and restoration of their ecosystems.

The Yoremes and Mayo Indians constantly require of “four mirrors” butterfly cocoons to produce traditional crafts called “tenábaris” (cocoons filled with tiny stones), which are used as part of the dress in traditional Pascola and Venao dances especially in Yaquis and Mayosen tribes. Indigenous interfere this way with the butterfly’s reproduction, damaging Sangregado tree in wich they nest and expose themselves to life-threatening as the ever increasing scarcity of sangregados trees and butterflies force them to enter for many kilometers in the bush. This is a serious situation, and there will come a day when the dancers replaced them by something alien to the tradition, which would be unfortunate.

The Ctrl + Z proposal was based almost entirely on the rescue and re-use of those pallets we located during our previous investigations that we were preparing to compile an initial list of potential resources to be used in the construction of a cultural center similar to elNodo / laTren, an environmental classroom for community service, in the “Siglo XXI” colony of Los Mochis.

The company that stored them was willing to donate and we would have been able to organize a work scheme in which construction was carried out in a workshop with some of the students that participated in the conference. Many of them showed interest in learning and getting involved in community projects like this one.

Finally the project was not realized, because it was already bespoken with a company, but it was very important to being the pretext to begin defining and organizing some concepts and ideas that utill the moment were in the air and suggested us to evaluate the possibility of using pallets to build domes.

Back in Sevilla we began to further the research on this technology based on the rescue for its use in emergency situations. Our aim was to propose a solution capable of taking advantage from the pallets wood arriving in the affected areas following other aid operations.

Environmental ClassroomsIn such scenarios are often spotted precarious buildings used as temporary shelter, which then gradually consolidated and that are based exactly on the rescue and reuse of the pallet. This is because those elements arrive with abundance (almost 100% of the aid arrivie on pallets) and, for their low value, there’s no interest in bringing them back. They are considered as expendable elements and just accumulate without knowing what to do with them.

We were interested in improving and simplifying a construction method that would allow to cover large spans with small items, easier to find, handle and transport and often available locally, without moving many materials or tools, and even without the need of our physical displacement to the affected area.

A simple system that could be applied through repetition of basic elements to build using easily locally producible templates. A system for chain building despite of the differences in thickness and measures of underlying elements, due to the different models of pallet, allowing to provide as many shelters as quickly as possible, important factor in the early days of the emergency when the most important need is to stabilize the situation, for example providing protection from rain.

All this looked very nice on paper, so it had to be checked it in the real world to learn from the experience of materialization and this way be able to continue with the theoretical investigation following what we’ve learned.

Later in the year it all seemed on track for the construction of the first pilot dome in the context of a larger urban rescue and reuse project intended to develop through a participatory and communitarian process in different cities in Mexico, starting from Mexicali, for environmental classroom construction. Unfortunately different situations did postpone the project until its final cancellation.

In June 2012, with the call Marcello’s father, finally arrived the opportunity we expected to verify what raised. For results of this particular experience just click on the photo.

Geodesic HouseConstruction of Marcello’s house was an extremely useful process to a advance in the research. We test out that the system works, it’s not complicated assemble and that the necessary operations can be carried out by non-specialists. Too many times in fact the proposed solutions require very highly specialized work to perform so precise work that could be defined almost as “goldsmiths” tasks.

This project was the first of a certain size that we built with the “no knots” or without special elements at the intersections between the bars. Its success encourages us to follow this path. The knots were indeed the more complicated parts and the ones creating more headaches in the Saltillo’s geodesic cover. Put them aside means lowering the cost and, above all, the level of technology needed to build such structures, and allows us to maintain a lowtech profile.

Structures such as “Marcello’s house” can be built with just two triangles type, with a total of only 2 assembly templates and 4 templates for parts that constitute each of them and keep as a mobile structure as disassembled can fit in 1 cube meter, making us think about the possibility of a cut center from which distribute “mounting kits” easily transportable to the surrounding territory.

Following the reflections around spherical forms, which naturally provide better resistance to the elements and more efficient use of materials, Ctrl+Z research, starting from experiences like this, now follows the path of simplification to improve the system so to make it fully “appropriate” to the different situations where it can applied and “appropriable” or better independently reproducible by the communities where pilot projects are installed.

The investigation is not limited to the simple application of geodesic geometry but as the union between it and many other reuse or anyway natural o local resource-based techniques, such as superadobe , designed exactly for curved geometries, that have already proven to be effective in such situations.

Nor geodesic geometry is regarded as essential, its application is not our goal, but a mere means. Our objective is to propose applicable architectural production models, consistent and appropriate to the type of situation in which we aspire to develop them. It would not be surprising if later we dispense of it, advocating and experimenting with other models, but strong of the experience gained during this first phase.

In our approach the most important thing is that the local population, regardless of the materials, technologies or specific geometries, can appropriate of the proposed models after an initial phase of knowledge transition.
It would endow resilience to the involved social and architectural processes, and even if at first aid would come through some dynamics linked to globalization, would continue work in the path and with the belief that improvements can be carried out by locals. Escaping the welfarism and paternalism that often accompany such actions.

Processes and progressive architectural elements that can provide immediate help and then consolidate in local communities.

We have realized several workshops on geodetic geometries. Two in 2010, one in Bustamante with the occasion of the construction of the temazcal and the other in Saltillo with the occasion of laTren / elNodo ambos en México; one in 2012 for the construction of Marcello’s housein Girona, Spain and in January 2013 was a fourth workshop was carried out building a bamboo dome in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Geodesica de pletinasGeodesica con nudosGeodesica de bamboo

Festival Eme3 2013
Eme3 Ctrl+ZSuccessively, in June2013, Ctrl+Z and NosoloPaja, progressing in their research, have built a new wooden geodesic dome that, before reaching its final destination and become part of a concrete living space, will be exposed in Barcelona as part of the International Architecture Festival Eme3 (Fabra i Coats, Sant Andreu), being finally awarded with the 3º prise of the festival.

This was an improved version of Marcello’s house in which, thanks to design changes, we were able to lower to 50% the triangle preparation time.

We would like to thank Geppetto, Georg Ladurner, Beata Szkotak, Carlos de la Barrera, Gabriel Kosowski and Massimo Mazzone for their help during the various stages of assembly.

geodesic elementsgeodesic triangles preparationwooden geodesic dome assembly

Otros Proyectos ES

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