Dome Building Workshop

Sadly, my newly acquainted friend, Tom, with passion for all things Permaculture, is leaving. He has sold off all that he has accrued here in Portugal and setting off on a new trajectory. One of the things he has kindly passed onto me for the small fee of what it cost him in material, is his dome kit that he has put together. I decided that it would be good for him, since he’s gotten this far with it, to finally assemble it before heading off on his new life. Of course it was good for me too, otherwise it would have just been another item added to the to-do list. So we went ahead and organised an informal workshop around it. It turned out to be a great day, a spontaneous gathering, and in the end we were 12 in total.

Tom did a great job of making it as easy as possible to assemble. All pieces are cut correctly to length, with the correctly angled edge (10 or 12 degrees), and marked appropriately with an A, B or C. The ends just butt straight into the hubs that have the metal connector strips already attached.

A, B and C lengths
Marcio showing the angles cut on the edges.
The guide that Tom built to cut the 10 and 12 degree angles correctly.
The hubs (5 pointed for pentagonal junction and 6 pointed for hexagonal junction)

With respects to putting it together it was quite simple. Just referred to the instructions that he had laid out and the color coded model (made out of colored drinking straws and held together with small safety pins).

Instructions a la Tom
Handy color coded model for reference.

We started with building all the pentagons first (required a 5 pointed hub) and then went on to put it all together by filling the rest, constantly referring to the model.

Tom (in red) and Tiago, putting the first of the pentagons together.

Although there were many of us, there was only enough power tools available for about 3 people. Nonetheless it was good to have so many people holding the structure firm while putting the bigger pieces together, especially towards the end when we were attaching the final row at the base.

This is where it was good to get help from people to support the base while others joined the last bits.

Now that the structure is complete I just need to cover it with clear plastic. The first stage of it’s use will be as a green house.

All in an afternoon’s work for the great crew, and just before the rain came down.

Thanks to all who came to help build!

I thought that it might also be useful to mention to anyone wanting to build their own that all the material for this cost Tom about 100 euros! Essentially it’s the 4×2(cm) wood cut into lengths, 5cm rods/dowels sliced into 4cm lengths (same width as the wood that butts into them) and some galvanised steel strapping cut into correct lengths to make the hub.


  • Funda

    April 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm Reply

    This is so great!! I'd love to have one for a greenhouse as well. Imagine the tomatoes!!

  • Sam

    April 21, 2012 at 2:40 am Reply

    Wow! How fantastic. Wishing Tom well on his next adventure. And lots of great growin' in the dome. 🙂

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