Education

Why Don’t Air Domes Get Blown Away By the Wind?

Ever wondered why those big, inflatable air domes don’t get carried off by the wind? They certainly look like they should — after all, they’re made of fabric and full of hot air. One would expect a structure with the shape and squishy-ness of a giant marshmallow to be vulnerable to the whims of Mother Nature. But most of the time, air domes manage to stay in place even through the nastiest of wind storms.

Turns out there’s more to an air dome than a puff of air, according to a dome-maker called the Farley Group (visit www.thefarleygroup.com to see their work).

How Air Domes Stay Grounded

It’s no small feat to keep an air dome down, especially the bigger sports domes that are hundreds of feet long by several stories tall. The upward force of the air inside is massive. So what keeps it grounded?

A concrete grade beam that runs the circumference of the dome provides a solid foundation on which the dome sits. Think of it like the foundation of a house, but for a dome. There’s also an aluminum profile, which bridges the gap between the fabric and the grade beam and acts as an anchor.

The dome material is securely fastened to the grade beam, which is inserted into the foundation before the concrete cures and is thus totally anchored down to the ground. It’s only after this connection is made that the dome operators will pump it full of air and raise the roof to its full height.

In short, the dome-building process can be summarized as such:

  1. Pour the concrete foundation.
  2. Insert the aluminum profile into the foundation.
  3. Spread the fabric out over the foundation and fasten it to the grade beam.
  4. Inspect the circumference of the dome to make sure everything’s secure.
  5. Inflate!

If all goes well, the foundation will do its job and keep the dome out of Mother Nature’s windy grasp.

And if disaster strikes and the dome does become airborne…well, at least it’s only the fabric that flies away. The concrete foundation isn’t going anywhere. In that way, air domes are actually the place to be in the event of a natural disasters. There’s no fear of the walls toppling over or the roof caving in over your head.

In any case, now you know why air domes don’t get blown away by the wind! Pretty neat, eh?

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