Biodome Engineering Summary
A Biodome provides the most natural outdoor environment achieved in a structure because it is a free span construction.
This means there are no columns or internal roof supports taking up space or distracting the eye and reminding the viewer they are in a building. Once inside, the clear walls go almost straight up, out of sight, out of mind. The 75' apex provides plenty of height to grow a forest canopy.
The hemispheric dome has the maximum structural stability because there are no corners or edges where stresses occur and the structure's weight is evenly distributed, pressing directly down, eliminating any spreading forces on the foundation.
A Biodome catches more light than a standard greenhouse. It's larger panels and more widely spaced supports screen out less light than a conventional small paned greenhouse. The curving dome also provides a face that is perpendicular to incident sunlight at any angle through the seasons. The overall light increase in the greenhouse exceeds 20%. This can be particularly important during Michigan's low light season for the tropical plants.
Because of its efficient design a dome require less equipment to control temperature. No sunscreens, whitewashing or mechanical evaporative coolers in the summer, just a quiet exhaust fans at the top where the heat collects and lower vents to draw cool air through like a chimney. Other botanical garden domes are up to eight degrees cooler than the outdoor temperature in the summer because evaporative cooling from the plants, waterfalls and misting system is enhanced by the efficient airflow pattern. In winter, close the vents and reverse the fan to blow down the warm air from the days capture of solar heat. During the winter a heating system is still necessary, but good use of the solar potential can significantly offset the heating requirements.
The circular interior of the dome is particularly conducive to producing the natural contouring layout. Continuously curving paths give the most outdoor quality by blocking straight look through lines of sight. This then gives more of a feeling of being surrounded by nature and in your own space, a quality of larger outdoor environments.