Dome construction employs a patented process known as airforming. This process is a major advancement allowing the ability to economically form and construct large span, column-free thin shell structures. Compared to more traditional construction methods, the use of the airform technology and product provide advantages in construction cost, time, design flexibility, and working environment. The airform, which is both the form for construction of the dome as well as the outer roof membrane of the completed shell, is attached to a ring beam foundation and inflated with large blower fans. It is fabricated from a custom-woven coated membrane designed for tensile structures.
The ringbeam is a steel reinforced continuous circular concrete footing which anchors the dome even through hurricane and tornado force winds, seismic activity, impact from debris, and soil settlement. The ringbeam is designed to support not only the weight of the completed dome, but also the forces of uplift from inflation of the airform during construction and pressures created by wind passing over the form.
The airform is both the form for construction of the dome and the outer roof membrane of the shell when it is finished. The airform is fabricated from a durable multi-ply material similar to that of commercial roofing membranes. The shape and size of the airform matches that of the completed structure. It is attached to the ringbeam foundation and inflated using large blower fans. The fans run throughout the construction of the dome and are closely monitored to ensure that the airform remains properly inflated.
The foam initially provides the required rigidity to support the reinforcing steel of the concrete dome. After construction is completed, the insulating foam works with the thermal mass of the concrete dome to provide exceptional energy efficiency.
To expedite the construction process, the reinforcing steel and all the equipment required to place the reinforcing steel is staged inside the perimeter of the ringbeam and the airform prior to inflation. Once the form is inflated and the insulating polyurethane foam is applied, special fasteners are imbedded in the foam and the reinforcing bars are attached.
Shotcrete is concrete that is sprayed on using a machine. Working in circles, from bottom to top, shotcrete is applied uniformly until the dome acquires its pre-engineered thickness. Once the shotcrete is fully applied and cured, it becomes entirely self-supporting and able to resist incredible loads applied to its exterior or suspended from its interior.
The ECOdome team is experienced in the build to suit development process and works with clients to streamline the experience from site selection and budgeting to space planning, construction management and interior build out. They can be designed to satisfy any architectural need from recreation centres and arenas to churches and schools, private homes, community service centres, commercial and industrial sites, including bulk storage and containment.