Freedomes - Built by Numbers
A triangle. A kite. A boat. A heart! Clouds in the sky? Easel before art? Nope. Those are some of the actual shapes of built Freedome® structures.
Freedomes can have any shape. To achieve this, their framing components can be, and often are, all uniquely different from each other. This is without increasing the cost of the structure. See, Geometrica has software that controls the logistics of a huge number of distinct parts from design through manufacture and into installation. Every single component is custom-made, then stenciled and marked, and then presorted into substructures in the exact order that the structure needs to get built. Not an easy task but, after hundreds of installations worldwide, we have perfected the process. This allows you, as a designer, to dome over a square, a triangle, or even a heart. This article explains the system behind such power.
Until recently, using identical, repeating components was a mantra for economy in structural form. The mantra was sought even as such mantra conflicts with creativity and free-form. Structures with identical framing members are limited in shape to flat or single-curvature... not very desirable either structurally or creatively.
When designing a Freedome, forget about the mantra. You can design a surface structure that has varying curvature in any direction or all. Freedomes can take the shapes of nature, such as soap films, catenary nets, the surface of viscous fluid flows, or mathematical functions. You can plan your shape and let us fill it in with a structural mesh. Any structurally sound form can me rendered in the Geometrica system. And with our advanced software, a proposed geometry can be optimized for the loads that it will need to withstand. This can be done either by varying either member sizes, or by changing the geometry itself, or both.
Freedome geometries have near-equilateral triangles in the mesh, giving the structures have a pleasing, regular pattern. The variation in member sizes and lengths is often hard to see in the installed structure, but it is there, and it enables the elegant form.
Once the basic design is finished, we divide the Freedome into two-ton substructures. At this weight, each substructure will end up into a single, individual metal crate. The division enables our "kanban" process - a workflow that is performed and delivered as planned and in time. The substructures to be installed first are made first. From then on, all manufacturing is carried out in these complete substructure units that are sorted and crated per the planned installation sequence.
Quality is tightly controlled in accordance with Geometrica's renowned wiki-based ISO9001-certified QMS. Quality records are immediately made available at the project's website. Every structural member gets a dot-matrix mark as well as a sticker with all manner of identifying information. Unique mark, part number, fabrication parameters, packing parameters and QR coding ensure that all part information is available exactly when and where required.
At first glance, there are so many individual pieces! How can such an enormous structure ever be built?
Fortunately, the installation process has been subject to continuous improvement for decades, and is refined to a science. Early preparation work at the installation site starts well before the first crates arrive. Our team provides guidelines for manpower, equipment, tools and time that will be required. Local labor that has installed scaffolding, or steel, or even carpentry have the required basic skills. Our installation experts train the crew and consult on-site during the work. Welding or special tools are seldom needed to assemble a Freedome.
The magic happens when the first shipping container is received on site and the crew opens it. Inside crates and pallets are ordered and sequentially numbered. These numbers coincide with the numbered installation drawings. Every bundle is mapped to a specific location. There is never a doubt what goes where, when. Installation may start right upon the first container arrival. Then the second shipping container follows, and the third. The numbered crates and pallets keep arriving to the installation site in exact installation order.
It is as easy as following numbered crates and drawings sequentially. Each crate adds one of the small substructures to the growing dome. The complexity of the structure is reduced, and assembling the thousands pieces is actually fun to contemplate. Ever dabbled in paint-by-number? Freedomes are, literally, "built-by-number".
So whether you need a house of worship, a monumental skylight, a swimming pool cover, or simply to store raw materials, start your CAD up, and sketch your dream dome. Share it with us. We will gladly help make it real.
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