August 7, 2008

Some Assembly Required: The Porcupine Playdome

Waiting for The Last Hex, originally uploaded by daddytypes.

Alright, I've finally got my photos loaded from the big geodesic domeraising we had last week at my mom's house. Remember, DT reader AJ rather amazingly spit out a couple of these domes last summer using extra Coroplast corrugated plastic from the design studio. He built one for his kid, and then very graciously offered one to me. Building the dome had to wait a year, though, because my sister and her family moved into my mom's house while they rebuilt their own. And there's no way we were gonna fit this thing in our east coast living rooms, uh-uh. [Thanks again, AJ.]

I don't know if only crazy people build domes, or if building a dome makes you crazy, but by the end of the day, I have to admit, crazy and domebuilding go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like Buckminster Fuller and hippies. If you weren't crazy before you started, you will be when you're done. Like bacon, it turns out, a dome is always better if you get someone to make it for you.

The dome raising took pretty much all day, partly because I had to punch out several hundred little holes and pre-fold the triangles myself. [I was wrong to think a 4-yo would be able or interested to do it, though the kid did step up when it came to zip-tying.]

Zip ties. I made a decision around lunch time not to use the giant bag of polyester rivets I ordered, but to use zip ties instead. The rivets were slightly too small [I may have ordered the wrong size last year], and they didn't come apart easily, so we'd have to trash the dome to bring it down. Didn't want to do that. The kid dubbed it the Porcupine Dome, though, and the day-glo colors worked nicely against the white plastic board.

With my mom providing invaluable help for final assembly, we barely got the dome ready in time for the kid to sleep in it. She was pleasantly thrilled, and even whipped up a little song about it at bedtime, which is after the jump, along with some more photos and commentary.

105 triangular panels, each with nine perforated holes to punch out? There went my morning. About 400 holes into it, I realized a fat knitting needle would work better than my fingers or keys:

two triangle sizes, 75 of one, 30 of the other

Stack of pentagon modules. We made as many pentagon and hexagon modules in advance as we could, to expedite 3-D assembly. I guess it worked, but it was still crazy to put the whole thing together. [When I broke it down, I left all the modules intact for next time. (sic)]:

stack of AAB Pentagons

The kid putting her hexagon module together:

The Kid and the Hexes

Domeraising with great grandmother's quilting iron and an increasing number of Ikea folding chairs from the storage room:

Mid-way Through The Domeraising

The completed Porcupine Dome in a moment of rare convexity:

Welcome To The Porcupine Dome

Even after ratcheting them down as hard as I could, the zip ties still gave the dome a lot of play. So the whole thing was pretty floppy, though it wasn't in danger of falling down. When I did take it down, I left the hexagon and pentagon panels intact to speed reassembly for next time [as if.]

So the song, which the kid breaks out with during her bedtime story, after pulling her comforter and pillow into the dome. I guess exposure to my ringtone is having an effect:

We all live in a porcupine dome
In the middle of the basement
of Grammy's home.
And all day long,
we worked on the dome.
So I could sleep in it
before we go back home.
Zipping it here
And tying it there.
Balancing the dome so high in the air.

Not domed out yet? There are still more photos and construction info in the Daddy Types geodesic playdome photoset on flickr [flickr]




Now if you had an army of architecture students, a laser cutter and some generative design software you could have made something more like this:

Pain in the butt to pull together and take apart but worth it for the gratitude from your kids and the fun memories it provides.

Good Lord, is SCI-Arc some kind of slave labor camp for software-loving megalomaniacal architects? Greg Lynn had some minions installing his Blob Wall Pavilion there, too, a couple of months ago. While I'd definitely thought it'd be nice to have some interns during the build, I'm just not able to imagine abusing people to the extent actual architects do.

debatable, frankly. I'd say if the kid is old enough to help put it together with you, and they're into it, it's worth it. As the day went along, I kept feeling like I was ignoring the kids so I could make the dome. for the kids.

My first thought was, "hey! I have that same multi-pack of zipties from the home depot"

you may be familiar with RBF's own dome poem, i think it was written around the time of the Hollywood dome, ie early 60s. haven't seen the whitney show yet but i can't imagine its featured.

Roam Home to a Dome

There once was a ‘square’
With a Romantic Flair
Pure Beaux Arts: McKim, Mead and White
In the Mood that Ensued
He went ‘Factory Nude’
Mies, Gropius, Corbu, and Wright

Roam Home to a Dome
Where Georgian and Gothic once stood
Now Chemical Bonds
Alone Guard our Blondes
And even the Plumbing ‘Looks Good’

Let Architects Sing
Of Aesthetics that Bring
Rich Clients in Hordes to their Knees
Just give me a Home
In a Great Circle Dome
Where the Stresses and Strains
Are at Ease

Roam Home to a Dome
On the Crest of a Neighboring Hill
Where the Chores are all Done
Before they’re Begun
And Eclectic Non-sense is nil

And I may not be familiar with it. Wow.

Where did you obtain the Coroplast?
I am curious about a cost estimate for the material.

it was all offcasts and end pieces from AJ's office. It looks like it's about $25/sheet for 4x8' white.

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