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Publication numberUS2914074 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 24, 1959
Filing dateMar 1, 1957
Priority dateMar 1, 1957
Also published asDE1170604B
Publication numberUS 2914074 A, US 2914074A, US-A-2914074, US2914074 A, US2914074A
InventorsBuckminster Fuller Richard
Original AssigneeBuckminster Fuller Richard
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Geodesic tent
US 2914074 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Nov. 24, 1959 LLLL ER 2,914,074


GEODESIC TENT Filed March 1, 1957 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 IN VEN TOR.



Nov. 24, 1959 R. B. FULLER 2,914,074


United States Patent GEODESIC TENT Richard Buckminster Fuller, Forest Hills, NY. Application March 1, 1957, Serial No. 643,403 2 Claims. (Cl. 135-1) The invention relates to geodesic building structures in the form of spherical tents.

Summary Heretofore, as described in my prior Patent No. 2,682,235, granted June 29, 1954, I have discovered how to create building structures in which the main structural elements are interconnected in a geodesic pattern of approximately great circle arcs intersecting to form a three way grid of substantially equilateral triangles. Such building structures may consist of skeletal frameworks made of interconnected struts, or of interlocking or interconnected sheets or plates, or of molded plastic sections fastened together along flanged edges, or of flexible fabrics or plastic skins conforming in pattern or behavior to the three way grid geodesic construction. Also I have found that a very special relationship exists between a geodesic building structure made of interconnected struts and a complementary geodesic building structure made of flexible fablics or plastic skins where these two structural components are made to conform in structure, pattern or behavior to a mutual three way great circle synergy. My present invention is concerned with an improved geodesic skin or tent construction which gives a new and synergetic stress distributionsynergetic in the sense that the behavior of the skin under stress is unpredicted by its several parts, and that there is imparted to the structure a strength beyond that which would be calculated using accepted values of strengths of materials and usual methods of stress analysis and computation. Fundamentally, I accomplish improved results by tailoring the several pieces which go to make up the tent in such a fashion as to yield an omnitriangulated suspension pattern. The pieces themselves may or may not be of generally triangular form, but the suspension pattern should be so in any case. The tailoring is such as to include an omni-triangulated pattern of suspension points extending over substantially the entire area of the tent, with a predetermined dip in the fabric between one suspension point and another. This dip produces a catenary curve, or an approximation thereof, between each pair of adjacent suspension po'nts. Around each point of suspension the structural form is essentially that generated by revolution of a catenary segment about the catenary suspension point. This form approximates a cone and for simplicity is sometimes referred to herein and in the appended claims as conical. In some instances a truly conical form can be used, so I employ the term conical as including both a true cone and such pyramidal or catenary forms as will be described with reference to the several exemplary embodiments shown in my drawings.

Description view of a domical structure embodying the invention. It shows an exterior geodesic framework with a geodesic tent supported within it. Part of the frame has been removed to show more clearly the catenary form of the tent.

Fig. 2 is a detail perspective view of one of the conical elements of the structure together with one of the connecting pieces of generally triangular, or diaper, form, and adjoining portions of other conical elements.

Fig. 3 is a detail view of a triangular piece for a tent of modified construction.

Fig. 4 is a detail view of an assembly of fiat triangular pieces for a tent of another modified construction.

Fig. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating the fundamental stress pattern of the several catenary constructions of Figs. 1 to 4 inclusive.

Fig. 6 is a comparative sketch to show (by correlation with Fig. 5) the relationship between the cone-diaper form of Figs. 1-2 and the approximation of that form with the use of flat pieces of tent material according to Fig. 4.

Fig. 7 is a photographic reproduction of a completed dome in which the tent structure is made of tailored triangles of the general form typified in Fig. 3.

Fig. 8 is a photographic reproduction of a portion of the interior of a tent made of tailored triangles of the general form typified in Fig. 4.

Reference is made to Fig. 1 which shows a geodesic building structure made of interconnected struts and a complementary geodesic building structure in the form of a tent supported within the first named structure. A portion of the outer building structure has been removed to show more clearly the catenary form of the tent. The framework of the outer supporting structure is constructed on the pattern which I have described as comprising approximately great circle arcs intersecting to form a three way grid of substantially equilateral triangles. In the particular embodiment selected for illustration, the three way grids are formed on the faces of a spherical icosahedron. Each of the equal spherical equilateral triangles of this construction is modularly divided along its edges. Great circle arcs connecting these modularly divided edges in a three way great circle grid provide the outline for the plan of construction. Thus on the spherical equilateral triangle shown at 6, 6, 6' in Fig. 1, we have a series of great circle arcs 11, 2-2, 33 etc., a second series of great circle arcs 4-4, 5-5, 6-6 etc., and a third series of great circle arcs 7--7, 88, 9 9 etc., each series paralleling one of the sides of the spherical triangle 6, 6, 6, and the three series of arcs intersecting to form an omni-triangulated pattern in which the triangles form pentagons at each of the vertexes 6, 6 and 6', and hexagons throughout the rest of the pattern. The structural members a, b and c of the framework are aligned with the lines of the grids. In the particular construction shown, these structural members are considered as being in the form of tubular struts connected at points of intersection by hub-like members d. The inner building structure or tent is suspended within this framework from the hubs d by suspension cords or rods e so that the tent will have a pattern of suspension points which is complementary to the three way grid of the supporting structure. In the omni-triangulated pattern of the tent structure, the broken line 10 represents a hexagon centered on suspension point 4' located radially inward from suspension point 4 of the outer supporting framework (radially with reference to the center of the spherical icosahedron).

In the embodiment of Figs. 1 and 2, the tent is made up of conical pieces 11 and connecting pieces 12 of gen erally triangular or diaper form. The conical pieces are essentially of the form generated by revolution of a catenary segment about the catenary suspension point, so I 3 the apexes of the generated forms constitute the suspension points and these are arranged in accordance with the described geodesic three way grid pattern. In this way I have-provided a tent of generally spherical form tailored toan omni-triangulated pattern of projectingpoints of suspension formed by the apexes of forms generated by revolution of catenary segments about the respective catenary suspension points. The spaces between the circular edges of the conical pieces are filled in by'the diapers 12 which may be fastened adhesively or otherwise to flanges 14 at the bases of the conical pieces. Also, if desired, and as shown in Fig. 2, there may be connecting members 15 between the edges of adjacent diapers 12 and cones 11.

I have discovered that this construction results in the creation of what may be described as an inner sphere: regarding the several suspension points 13 as defining a spherewhich I shall here refer to as the outer sphere, I find that the interconnected diapers 12 become stressed to the form ofan inner sphere. Thus the tent structure as a whole uniquely combines the inwardly dipping catenary suspension lines between the omni-triangulated pat.- tern of suspension points withthe outwardly curved fabric of the inner sphere. I have found that this combination ofinwardly and outwardly curving lines of stress'producesa tent of surprising strength and rigidity. Even when formed of the thinnest nylon skins, the tent is characterized by high strength and freedom from fluttering in the wind. An hypothesis for the behavior of fabric tents supported in geodesic frames may be made with reference to the schematic diagram of Fig. 5. The lines of stress may be said to flow in natural radial catenary lines 15 outwardly and downwardly from the points of suspension 13. These radial catenary lines immediately and precessively induce circularlines, or rings, 16 at 90 to their respective axi cones to which the radial lines distribute their loading. These rings then precessively beget in turn further outwardly radial lines, and the radial lines again precessively beget circumferential rings. I believe that this fundamental precessive regeneration may becompared with the behavior of circular wave propagation, so that my tent is capable of distributing loads in the most nearly even energy distribution outwardly to the largest rings surrounding each vertex or point of suspension. When the outermost rings of the series of concentric rings 16 formed in response to the vertex stressing finally become tangent to one another on the lines 17, they form a tangential hexagon and pentagon network throughout the whole geodesic tent whereby'all loads are shared three ways by the synergetic three Way grid of omni-triangulated geodesic great circle system lines.- While I have here suggested what presently seems to me -to be the best possible explanation of observed surprise characteristics of my tent construction, I do not wish to be limited to this or any particular hypothesis or theory of stress behavior.

Another thing I have observed is that if a tent is constructed along geodesic lines, but without tailoring-in the catenary construction and without recognition of the inner sphere, there is created a natural tendency for the fabric of the tent to stretch into shapes somewhat approaching catenary curves. Such stretching thins out the fabric and weakens it, further demonstrating the value of providing a predetermined cone-catenary construction.

In Fig. it will be noticed that the radial lines between three adjacent suspension points 13 form a triangular figure comprised of three catenary curves. This figure line f between two of the concavely curved edges appears shorterthan that between .the sides 'of the dotted'triangl'e.

Thisis because line f is-approximately in the 'planeof the 4" smaller inner sphere. However the fabric whenlaidout flat to the full line position of Fig. 3, extends beyond the corners of the suspension points 13. According to another embodiment of my invention, a tent of the basic conecatenary construction is made up of triangular pieces of the form shown in Fig. 3, seamed together along their concavely curved edges toproduce the structure illustrated in Fig. 7. In this view the shadows cast by the outer supporting framework on the nylon fabric of the tent reveal approximately the cone-catenary form of the tent. Fig. 7 represents a practical example of the utility and value of my tent construction as it has been applied to an 8,000 square foot geodesic dome which was erected for the United States Government pavilion at the International Trade Fair in Kabul, Afghanistan. The tent was seamed together from the triangular pieces of nylon of the form shown in Fig. 3. The fundamental characteristics of this modified construction are essentially the same as have been described with reference to the embodiment of Figs. 1 and 2, and the schematic diagram of Fig. 5.

According to another embodiment of my invention illustrated in Fig; 4, a similar result is attained by tailoring a catenary triangle from four flat triangles seamed together in the pattern here shown. The three outer triangles 18 constitute one-sixth or one-fifth of a'pyramidal cone (depending on whether they are centered on one of thehexagons or one of the pentagons of the three way grid system), and the center triangle 19 forms in'efiect the connecting piece or diaper of the Figs. 1-2 construction. In the diagram of Fig. 6, the diapers 19 have been shaded for easy recognition. By comparing Figs. 5'

and 6, the basic equivalence between the cone-diaper construction and the Fig. 4 construction can be readily discerned. How closely the fiat triangular pieces 18 and 19' of the Fig. 4 construction approximate the cone-diaper construction in terms of its effectiveness in creating the cone-catenary pattern is revealed in Fig. 8. This is a photographic view showing a portion of the interior of a} tent made of tailored triangles of the general form typified in Fig. 4.

In each of the three specific embodiments I have described, it will be seen that the tent has a pattern-of suspension points extending uniformly over substantially its entire'area; in each the tent is tailored to dip inwardly between adjacent suspension points; each conforms to the omnitriangulated three Way grid pattern; and in each the inward dip of the fabric approximates a caternary curve between one suspension point and another. of correspondence between the several embodiments may be discovered from the description which has preceded. The pieces which go to make up the tent may be fabricated in a variety of ways from thin flexible fabrics such as nylon skins, or from less flexible materials, or in.

some cases from rigid materials, as may be desired.

The pieces may be stitched, glued or otherwise fastened The terms and expressions which I have employed are 2 used in a descriptive and not alimiting sense, and I have no intention of excluding: such. equivalentsbf-the-invention described, or of portions thereof, as fall within the scope of the claims.

I claim:

1. A tent of generally spherical form having a pattern of suspension points distributed over its area, said tent having reinforcement elements of generally conical, shape with substantially'ci'rcular base edges secured to triangular.

connecting l' pieces' of covering rnaterial,,, thej apexes --.of said" reinfqicment" elements forming the suspension Other points.

points, and a framework including means for supporting said tent at said suspension points.

2. A tent of generally spherical form having a pattern of suspension points distributed over its area, said tent having reinforcement elements of generally conical shape 5 secured together as a part of the covering material, the generally conical shape of said reinforcement elements being obtained by connecting together triangular pieces of material, the edges of said triangular pieces having a predetermined concavity whereby the conical shape of 6 the tent material at the points of suspension is formed in the tent before it is raised and placed under suspension stresses, and a framework including means for supporting said tent at said suspension points.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 74,535 Holmes Feb. 18, 1868 1,839,076 Adams Dec. 29, 1931 2,682,235 Fuller June 29, 1954

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US74535 *Feb 18, 1868 Holmes
US1839076 *Sep 11, 1928Dec 29, 1931Charles W AdamsTent
US2682235 *Dec 12, 1951Jun 29, 1954Fuller Richard BuckminsterBuilding construction
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U.S. Classification135/124, 135/156, 52/81.1, 52/83, 135/100, D25/13, 343/872, 135/119, D25/19, D21/834
International ClassificationE04B7/10, E04H15/34, E04B1/32, E04H15/42
Cooperative ClassificationE04B7/105, E04B1/3211, E04B2001/3252, E04B2001/3294, E04H15/42
European ClassificationE04H15/42, E04B7/10C, E04B1/32C