Technology

Engineering Technology

The dome is actually a full circle of arches, the most recognizable and strongest load-bearing structures ever created. Once these arches were used to form a dome, the strength and durability they offered was also passed onto buildings and homes around the world. Only North America seems to be lagging in adopting domes into everyday life. North America, with an abundance of wood, took a new approach to home building. Now, with wood not nearly as plentiful as it was, there is a need to both conserve it and still provide quality housing.

The basis of our dome homes is the prefabricated panel method of assembly. Much like stacked curved building blocks. Though the panel concept is not totally unique and found in every igloo ever built, it is the geometry involved that was the true breakthrough for Lexa. Consider that each panel (within each panel row) has at least 24 different radii, and for a moderate home can have over 300 different radii to cut. This is not an igloo!

technolgyNow with computers, modern drawing programs and cnc machines, creating different diameters and curves on the way to a dome home has become much easier. Spherical domes have the advantage of always being the same radius, regardless where you are in the dome. Elliptical domes are much more complicated and can vary tremendously from design to design. The elliptical curve can be steep or gradual and change the look dramatically. 

The wood frame panels, though obviously curved, mimic standard stick-frame construction in many ways.   The panels are produced with 16-inch centers, and when stacked form a wall similar to that of a stick frame. To manufacture these panels, Lexa Dome Homes uses common machines and what is known as standard lumber for the ribs, usually in a 2 x 6 configuration (2 x 4 lumber is used for non-residential buildings). The rest of the wooden pieces required for the panels, the dome strapping and the dome sheathing are all made from 4 x 8 ft. OSB sheets cut on cnc machines. These wood products are a renewable resource and are commonly found in the standard stick-frame housing industry as well.  

technolgy 2The wood panels are prefabricated using strong but simple assembly jigs that are made specifically for a row of panels. Once the jig is verified as accurate, the jigs produce a very consistent product. This consistency can be for a few, or a few thousand, panels. The customer can be assured that the panel made today will be the same as a panel made two years from now. On the jig, the panels are assembled using common air-driven staples.  

Once on-site, Lexa employees (again using air-driven nails and staples) erect the panels into a dome quickly and accurately. The speed of construction can be quite dramatic often forming the complete dome shape in only one dayIt needs to be emphasized again that the dome shape creates an incredibly strong structure, well beyond conventional stick frame.   

Though Lexa Dome Homes Ltd. is currently building entirely new dome homes in BC and Ontario, some of the photos used on this site (by permission) are from a Lodge in New Denver.  The Lodge was built in 2005 as proof of concept of the curved wall panel system and proof of load strength ability.  The lodge is comprised of four singular domes and four interconnected domes of various sizes.  Each dome used different construction techniques and explored different methods to build a dome.  In the end, the basis of Lexa domes was found to be the most logical for mass construction.  Lexa Dome Homes has since adapted and improved the system and uses it in its products.  The panels are evolving through Lexa engineering processes adopting the best in new methods and materials.  

 

 

 

 

 

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