Domes are curved architectonic structures with no angles or corners, similar to the upper half of a sphere. Despite their apparent fragility, domes are strong structures and have been used in buildings since ancient times, according to PBS Online. In Europe, the earliest domes were made of stone. The Roman Pantheon, built almost 2,000 years ago, is a good example of early dome engineering. Indigenous peoples in Ethiopia and other places have used curved bows to create their huts, creating a primitive yet effective dome, reports the website Simply Different.
The geodesic dome was invented in the 1950s by American engineer and architect Buckminster Fuller, according to PBS Online. This type of dome is structured on triangles and other geometric shapes instead of the arches. The Epcot Center in Orlando, the Caspary Auditorium in New York and the Eden Project in England are examples of geodesic domes.
The monolithic dome is made of one solid piece of material. Its construction begins with a circular concrete foundation, where a canvas "airform" is attached to the slab. The canvas is then inflated using special fans, thus forming the shape of the dome. After that, the interior is covered with a layer of polyurethane foam insulation . A steel bar is enclosed in the foam to give support to the dome. Finally, a special mix of concrete is spread over the interior of the building, reports the Architecture Week website.
The bow dome is made of wood bows, which can be substituted by aluminium, and canvas. This type of dome is rather archaic, yet efficient. It represent the first habitation built by humans, according to website Simply Different. There are different types of bow domes, which depends on how the bow is placed. Half sphere or uni bow is the most common, but has some disadvantages, which include the almost horizontal roof angle at the top, not ideal under snow, for instance. Cross-tie, peak-tie and bell are other types of bow dome, more appropriate for regions with lots of rainfall or snow.