I am a dome designer/builder living in Auckland, New Zealand, where I was born, raised and educated. I am 48 years old and have worked as an engineer for the last 25 years.
Apart from domes, I am interested in timber/plywood structure, computers, reading, trout fishing, astronomy, the environment and rugby union.I have written two books, "Plywood in New Zealand" & "Timber Geodesic Domes".
My business is to design domes for clients, and
then either build the dome for the client or organise it's construction
by others. To this end I provide plans, engineering calculations, complete
pre-cut, pre-nail, pre-fabrication details, setout geometry as well as
erection supervision and the supply of the hubs for the dome (this is the
part of my system which I keep to myself). I have now done 68 domes in
New Zealand and more recently Australia. I use ellipsoids and super-ellipsoids
for residential domes as well as commercial. I also use fragments of domes.
I have also built a theatre using a free form amorphous flow of geodesic
For two years I planned building my own home as a dome and to this end I built two four meter diameter domes, one by the hub and strut method (as shown below in the photo of the 2v oblate super-ellipsoidal icosahedron built for the N.Z.Forestry Corporation) and the other by the triangle method (see this method in the photo below of the dome test) - the two methods described in "Domebook 2".
I favoured the latter technique as it allowed fixing of the plywood outer skin prior to erection, when it came to building part of my home as a dome. I subsequently built an 8m diameter 5/8 spheroid icosahedron as the main living area of my home, using triangles framed with 75x50 timber and skinned with 15mm plywood, each triangle bolted to its adjacent triangles through the 75x50 framing, which was bevelled at 7o to allow for the dihedral angle.
At the time, 1975, a computer analysis of the structure would have cost $5,000 and would have been done in Melbourne, Australia. To get around this high cost, I convinced the local building permit authority to allow me to proof test load the structure. I hung 2 x 25kg bags of Dricon from each node point and measured the downward deflection of the zenith using a dial gauge from my research lab. This load was the design liveload requirement of NZS4203.
I was running at the time a Research and Development Laboratory for N.Z.'s largest plywood manufacturer, testing structure for the company as well as outside clients. In my R&D work over an eight year period I had tested many different wall systems (racking tests), floor systems, and roof systems mainly incorporating timber and plywood. I also developed plywood treatment systems, using LOSP treatment, tested paint systems for plywood & introduced plywood wall claddings to the N.Z. market. (A careful look at the picture shows that I am using plywood wall cladding inside out as my sarking - downgraded 15mm Shadowclad when I only needed 9mm plywood.)
Under design liveload, 0.25kPa UDL, the 8m diameter dome deflected 1.7mm at the zenith, which was accepted as satisfactory by the local authority. In the structural testing I had done, I had often seen 10mm deflections of floors, walls, beams and roofs which were well within safe limits. 1.7mm was negligible, and much of that deflection was the closing of minor gaps under load.
By 1980 I had been responsible for over 400 uses of plywood/timber structure developed from the R&D work including 17m span plywood folded plate roofs, 30m span plywood boxbeam portal frames, 24m span plyweb beams, 8m span plywood stressed skin panel floor systems, as well as some specialised uses with fibreglass. I had become the spokesperson for the Plywood Association of N.Z. and was giving many lectures at seminars, conferences, Universities and at Technical Institutes.
About this time I got a copy of Hugh Kenner's
book, "Geodesic Math and How to Use It".
"It would help, moreover, if geodesic design could be disentangled from its historical reliance on spheres. More than once a geodesic approach has been shunned because the designer, for one good reason or for several, didn't want his structure to resemble a slice from a sphere. But anyone who masters the design procedure in this book will find that, once he has mastered geodesic spheres, geodesic eggs, whether tall or flat, are only one step more complicated, and free-form contours are no more difficult than eggs." Hugh Kenner
I was inspired by this statement and since then
have built eggs, squashed domes, super-ellipsoids, fragmented domes and
some free form amorphous flows.
Live load = 0.25kPa
Dead load = 0.25kPa
Wind load @ 35m/s as per NZS4203:1976
A = LL + DL
A = LL + DL + W
A = 0.7DL + W
The wind load took into account a complex External Pressure Coefficient (Cpe) system, which we have since simplified to a zone of +0.4 on the windward side and a zone of -0.9 on the top and leeward side.
From the linear analysis I had axial loads and deflections as results. I took combined axial and bending, using the tributary area to each strut, taken as adjacent triangle boundary members, and calculated moments and shears and checked deflections. I also checked the deflection of all framing members under a 1kN point load, a requirement of NZS4203 "Code of Practice for General Structural Design and Design Loadings for Buildings".
The 1kN point load on the longest internal framing member has turned out to be the governing criteria in every dome built by this method except in one dome built on a cliff top in Wellington, N.Z., where the 50year return period wind speed was 45m/s, which was factored by 2.4 to allow for the height from the bottom of the cliff and for the funnelling effect of a nearby gorge (again in accordance with NZS4203)
The significant ones I list below;
two dome fragments from a 3 frequency(3v) 13m diameter squashed ellipsoidal
icosahedron separated by a clerestory
- 48m x 36m diameter 3v stretched, squashed, superellipsoid, pre-lined with timber matched lining, 2/150x50 framing, 12mm plywood skin, erected by the cluster technique in 19 hours of crane time, including 8 hours during which we waited for 20 knot winds to subside
- many variations on a theme using different points as the zenith, different stretch and squash ratios, different truncation planes and different fragments missing for openings or projections.
What I am going to build for myself next is a 1000sq.m "skybreak", based on a 6v superellipsoidal icosahedron (50mx20mx10m high), mostly glass, using shrubs, hedges, hanging vines etc to create different living spaces including indoor flower, herb and vegetable gardens, and using the spaces under a mezzanine to create the private spaces required in a home. It will have passive solar heating, solar water heating, perhaps an indoor pool, interior landscaping. I'll have started building within the next 18 months.
AN INDOOR STADIUM
CITY IN THE CLOUDS
My family is my major interest and my major time commitment. I have 7 children including 3 stepsons. 6 of them and my mother are celebrating two events at this dinner - my 45th birthday and N.Z. winning the Americas Cup yachting that same day.
Clockwise around the table are Jonathan (who died of cancer 14 August 1998 aged 25), Daniel, my mother Joy, Oliver (who's called Odge), Amanda, Ben, Emma and myself. Christopher (called Toff) is missing - he's living in Australia.
Amanda is my oldest child and so far the only parent amongst my children. Her son, my grandson Sean is now seven.
Jonathan had an extremely nasty version of cancer called Ewings Sarcoma. He was in northern Italy touring in a camper-van in April 1986, when the Chernobyl cloud swung down through Italy and Greece. Ewings is the type of sarcoma which affects young people and is normally in the bone - he had it in the soft tissue. It's my bet that it was caused by Chernobyl, which strengthens my anti-nuclear resolve. Jonathan's courage and good cheer right to the end was humbling - could I ever be that brave? When he was born in Dunedin in 1973, I was the first Dad allowed to be present at a birth in the Dunedin maternity hospital. While common now, in those days, it was just not done.
I held him when he was born, I held him when he died. Children should bury their parents!
In NZ we are mad about Rugby Union. Our national team is the All Blacks and I am a keen fan. One day I'll follow them on tour to South Africa when they play the mighty Springboks. Thank God that apartheid has ended, for during those troubled years when we boycotted South Africa, we missed out on some great rugby, though the boycott had my support. As a former player, when my boys came of age to play (i.e. 5yrs old) I became a rugby coach. This I have done for 16 years.In 1993, I was appointed coach of a North Harbour rep team for the Roller Mills Tournament, one of the oldest rugby tournaments in the world - and that year, won the Roller Mills shield for North Harbour (or it's predecessor, Auckland North) for the first time in 44years. My fellow coach/selectors, Graham Hayhow and Warrick Black are with me in the photo. My rugby union newsgroup is rec.sport.rugby.union.
I will always be grateful to my late father, Jim Rich, for teaching me to fly-fish in the Waitahanui River at Lake Taupo. My children now fish. I tie my own flies and go fishing a dozen times a year, including a couple of whole weeks at Taupo.The pics are of Emma, a 7lb brown jack, a 4lb rainbow hen, an 8lb rainbow jack and me. The 8 pounder is not the largest trout I've caught, but is probably the best conditioned large fish I've taken. I caught it on a Red-tipped Governor nymph in a pool called Blackfish. For some reason, fish in that pool are "black" as evidenced by the photo.
I occasionally contribute to a newsgroup called rec.outdoors.fishing.fly, known as ROFF for short.
"A bad day fishing is still better than a good
I follow sci.astro and sci.astro.amateur as newsgroups on the net.
Can you imagine my joy to be fishing the Waitahanui River mouth at night, away from the city lights and 1,000 ft above sea-level, watching the stars?