Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Earth Day, Build a Geodesic Greenhouse

Exhibit A: One enterprising gentleman, Jim Dunn, living 7,750 miles above sea level in Colorado, who built his own geodesic greenhouse to sustainably grow edible crops during the brief 80 days of of growing season.

The Geodesic Dome was invented by R. Buckminster Fuller, folk hero cult figure, polymath, synergist, scientist, engineer, philosopher, wildly prolific author, marathon speaker (42 hours in one sitting in 1975!), inventor of many words, and the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill."

Stanford University has possession of Bucky's entire Dymaxion Chronofile, an artifact of Bucky's "Guinea Pig B" experiment, in which he chronologized every single aspect of his life for generations to come: notes, sketches, correspondence, hotel stationary, dry cleaning receipts.

As an undergrad, I was lucky enough to take a course in which we had access to the 270 linear feet of the Chronofile, and could also dig through thousands of models and videos. By far, the coolest artifact I ever found was a handwritten note from Yoko Ono to Bucky, asking for advice on how build their own geodesic dome.

Before we get into explaining how to build your own dome, a few words from Bucky on this 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, from his "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth," billed in advertisements as "an alternative to oblivion, by the inventor of the geodesic dome."
"Now there is one outstanding important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it....

Our little Spaceship Earth is only eight thousand miles in diameter, which is almost a negligible dimension in the great vastness of space. Spaceship Earth was so extraordinarily well invented and designed that to our knowledge humans have been on board it for two million years not even knowing that they were on board a ship...

Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don't hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe."

- R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, 1963


So, this Earth Day, go straight to Growing Spaces, and order your geodesic greenhouse building kit. The following photos come from Colin Dunn's description of his industrious father's building project, as documented on Treehugger.


  1. for an ebook and free information on building a geodesic dome greenhouse go to


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