Architecture

hubs makes building your own geodesic dome childsplay

hubs promises to make building an open geodesic dome quick and easy
hubs promises to make building an open geodesic dome quick and easy
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hubs is pretty similar to K'Nex, and comprises a central hub and lots of ball joints
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hubs is pretty similar to K'Nex, and comprises a central hub and lots of ball joints
hubs was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign
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hubs was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign
The expected price for a full kit is expected to retail at £450 (roughly US$700)
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The expected price for a full kit is expected to retail at £450 (roughly US$700)
hubs promises to make building an open geodesic dome quick and easy
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hubs promises to make building an open geodesic dome quick and easy
hubs mini follows the same principle but on a smaller scale using straws instead of wood
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hubs mini follows the same principle but on a smaller scale using straws instead of wood
hubs is suitable for use as a garden room, aviary, chicken run, kid's den, and the like
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hubs is suitable for use as a garden room, aviary, chicken run, kid's den, and the like
hubs' creators reckon you can build a geodesic dome within an hour, or even under 20 minutes following some practice
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hubs' creators reckon you can build a geodesic dome within an hour, or even under 20 minutes following some practice

If you've ever wanted to channel your inner Buckminster Fuller and construct a geodesic dome but didn't know how, you may well be in luck. hubs promises to make building an open geodesic dome quick and easy, with construction time rated as under an hour. Its creators cite possible uses for the dome as a garden room, aviary, chicken run, children's den, and more.

The idea for the rather niche product came about when Chris Jordan built his own geodesic dome on his allotment using discarded fence posts, string, and a large jig. The process was something of a slog, and he decided there was a place on the market for an easier method. Four years later, Jordan and business partners Mike Paisley and David Brickwood are nearing the end of development on hubs.

Reminiscent of the children's toy K'Nex, hubs is actually pretty simple and comprises a central plastic hub and ball joints. You screw the ball joints into some suitable sticks and they snap into the hub, six at a time. Using this system, the creators reckon you can build a geodesic dome within an hour, or even in 20 minutes following some practice – no tools required. You can get creative too, and an igloo-like entrance can also be added to the dome.

hubs was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign
hubs was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign

"With hubs you simply snap it together from the inside out (you can also build from the outside in) and the dome grows up out of the ground," explains the team. "To raise the basic structure takes 10-15 minutes, when you know what you’re doing, and under a bit of direction from us two children built their dome in 25-30 mins. Once the dome is up you can lock the hubs tight to fix the position. "

Jordan and his partners also designed hubs mini, which follows the same principle as its larger counterpart but uses straws instead of wood. This smaller model seems more suited to kids or for mocking up ideas. Both large and small hubs are in the prototype stage, and the creators aim to bring them to production.

On this note, hubs was recently the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Assuming all goes well, it should be heading into production early next year. A full kit, which will include enough hand-split chestnut sticks to create a 4-m (13-ft)-diameter open dome, is expected to retail at £450 (roughly US$700). Pre-orders will soon be open on the website below.

Product page: hubs

6 comments
joeblake
To make this system even more flexible, why not (also) supply dowel plugs so that one could glue/ screw fix the plug into pipes of different diameter, such as old PVC or conduit which could be recycled. This would theoretically increase the diameter of the dome, since the struts are only under tension. I could also see this type of structure being used for emergency shelter. Kits with hubs, struts and maybe a cover of impermeable shade cloth, could be airlifted in great numbers to disaster areas. They would be freestanding, needing only tent pegs or the like to fix them to the ground - even sandbags with a net could be used if the ground was too hard to use pegs. These structures should also be less prone to damage by wind, as they have only a couple of faces into wind at any one time, regardless of which direction the wind comes from. Further, tests have shown that under most circumstances (with the wind horizontal) air pressure forces the dome onto the ground.
Rui
Very cool. Was expecting a lower price do. Since you only really need the hubs (120£ for a 2mt wide geo from what i understood ). With 3d printing becoming more available, I expect/ hope the offer for this kind of building blocks to grow. Hope they can build a business out of it, add more layout options and get those prices down!. R.
NickBurgoyne
I'd like to see this trialed with bamboo. When treated with borax (&co), it is an astonishing, durable and sustainable building material, and this looks like it could be easily adapted to take various diameters of bamboo pole.
Island Architect
Bucky's first big contract was given to him to build a skylight for the Ford Rotunda, by Pierre Heftler. Bill
twessels
Well, having worked for Buckminster Fuller for almost seven years in the 1970s, I've seen my share of geodesic domes and built a couple myself. The hub detail shown here looks good. Has it every been static load tested? That said, I have a couple of comments. Hubs made from plastic could be an issue in terms of scaling the size of the dome and their resistance to UV light. I don't know exactly what their composition is, but they are intended to be produced using injection molding machinery. In my opinion using an aluminum or stainless steel alloy might be a better choice for strength and resistance to the elements. While the dome "frame" is important, it is only part of the design. If weather resistance is needed, then it must be "skinned" with something that will not leak and be able to resist exposure to the elements for a prolonged period of time. More domes used for human habitation have been abandoned due to leaking than anything thing else. Shedding water is critical, next to openings for viewing, ventilation and entrance/egress. A hub-and-spoke dome can be skinned with a membrane suspended by an adjustable cord or chain attached to the inside of each hub. You could use nitrogen inflated "pillows" and attach them to the dome frame, but shedding water would still require additional attention. In any event, membrane or pillow skins are really only for temporary use. Rigid skin materials like aluminum, which could be stamped out in large quantities and would be very durable. Marine plywood could be used, but it will still require a weather-resistant surface finish. With either aluminum or plywood skins you still need to address the issue of water-shedding. Openings, adjustable or fixed, for ventilation, viewing and entry/egress are still critical design issues for permanent structures. I won't even get into building codes. There is a significant difference between dome structures designed for light duty as sheds and play structures, and dome designed for human habitation. This one looks more like the former than the latter due to the lack of "finishing" details.
InaniSchroedinger
What if you had the central pivot a solid ring that you could snap each arm of the hub on to? That allows you to design one product that could make any polyhedric form.