IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome

IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1 – 13 which are based on Reading IELTSFever Academic IELTS Reading Test 66 Passage 1 below.

The Geodesic Dome – The House of The Future?

R. Buckminster Fuller spent much of the early 20th Century looking for ways to improve human shelter by applying modern technological know-how to shelter construction, making shelter more comfortable and efficient, and more economically available to a greater number of people.

After acquiring some experience in the building industry and discovering the traditional practices and perceptions which severely limit changes and improvements in construction practices, Fuller carefully examined, and improved, interior structure equipment, including the toilet, the shower, and the bathroom as a whole. He studied structure shells and devised a number of alternatives, each less expensive, lighter, and stronger than traditional wood, brick, and stone buildings.

In 1944, the United States suffered a serious housing shortage. Government officials knew that Fuller had developed a prototype of a family dwelling that could be produced rapidly, using the same equipment which had previously built war-time airplanes. They could be “installed” anywhere, the way a telephone is installed, and with little additional difficulty. When one official flew to Wichita, Kansas to see this house, which Beech Aircraft and Fuller built, the man reportedly gasped, “My God! This is the house of the future!”

Soon, unsolicited checks poured in from people who wanted to purchase this new kind of house, but Fuller was never able to get it into full production. This was due to many obstacles such as only union contractors being able to hook the houses up to water, power, and sewers in many cities. However, because the houses were already wired and had the plumbing installed by the aircraft company, many construction trade unions made it clear that they would not work on the houses. There were also in-house differences between Fuller and the stockholders. Fuller did not feel the house design was complete; there were problems he wanted to fix. But the stockholders wanted to move ahead. However, the main obstruction was obtaining the financing for the tooling costs, which were purposefully not included in the negotiations with investors. No bank would finance the project with union problems and stockholder battles.

After the war, Fuller’s efforts focused on the problem of how to build a shelter that is so lightweight, it can be delivered by air. The shelter should be mobile which would require great breakthroughs in the weight-reduction of the materials. Technology would have to follow nature’s design as seen by the spider’s web which can float in a hurricane because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. A new shelter would have to be designed that incorporates these principles and that was Fuller’s intent.

One of the ways Buckminster Fuller would describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid in fact, the triangle is twice as strong. This principle directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of “doing more with less.” Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.

The sphere uses the “doing more with less” principle in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area thus saving on materials and cost. Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the sphere’s diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times the volume.

The spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling to occur naturally. Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still, they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.

More specifically, the dome is energy efficient for many reasons: its decreased surface area requires less building materials; exposure to cold in the winter and heat in the summer is decreased because, being spherical, there is the least surface area per unit of volume per structure; the concave interior creates a natural airflow that allows the hot or cool air to flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air ducts; extreme wind turbulence is lessened because the winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around the dome; it acts as a type of giant down-pointing headlight reflector and reflects and concentrates interior heat. This helps prevent radiant heat loss.

The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co. This is quite an improvement and helps save the environment from wasted energy. Domes have been designed by Fuller and others to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures as seen in the Polar Regions.

Many dome manufacturers offer various designs in geodesic dome housing with little assembly time required. Some houses can be assembled in less than a day with others taking up to six months. Many also come in dome kits that buyers can build themselves or with the help of friends.

Buckminster Fuller’s first worldwide acceptance by the architectural community occurred with the 1954 Triennale where his cardboard dome was displayed for the first time. The Milan Triennale was established to stage international exhibitions aimed to present the most innovative accomplishments in the fields of design, crafts, architecture, and city planning.

The theme for 1954 was Life Between Artifact and Nature: Design and the Environmental Challenge, which fit in perfectly with Fuller’s work. Fuller had begun efforts towards the development of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science, which he defined as, “the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet.” The cardboard shelter that was part of his exhibit could be easily shipped and assembled with the directions printed right on the cardboard. The 42-foot paperboard Geodesic was installed in the old Sforza garden in Milan and came away with the highest award, the Gran Premio.

IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome Questions 1 – 2

Choose the appropriate letters A – D and write them in boxes 1 – 2 on your answer sheet.

Question 1. In 1944, government officials were interested in Fuller’s family dwelling because

[A] they had a housing shortage.

[B] it is the house of the future.

[C] it could be produced rapidly and installed easily.

[D] all of the above.

Question 2. Fuller’s family dwelling was not fully produced mainly because

[A] aircraft company installed these houses

[B] there were financing problems

[C] union contractors did not support Fuller

[D] Fuller and the stockholders held different ideas

IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome Questions 3 – 7

Classify the following descriptions as referring to

The sphere S

The rectangle R

The triangle T

Write the appropriate letters in boxes 3 – 7 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any answer more than once.

Question 3. doing more than less

Question 4. stable

Question 5. allowing natural air circulation

Question 6. rigid

Question 7. folding

IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome Questions 8 – 13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome Passage? In boxes 8 – 13 on your answer sheet write.

TRUE if the statement is true

FALSE if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage

Question 8. A geodesic dome is basically a spherical structure created from rectangles.

Question 9. It has been proved that the geodesic dome is the most efficient human shelter.

Question 10. Domes are environment-friendly buildings.

Question 11. Some scientists set up domes in the Polar Regions.

Question 12. Domes are much cheaper than traditional houses.

Question 13. Fuller won the Gran Premio in 1954.

IELTS Data Reading Passage 124 – The Geodesic Dome Answers

(1) C

(2) B

(3) S

(4) T

(5) S

(6) T

(7) R


(9) TRUE

(10) TRUE



(13) TRUE

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