3D art class builds life-size dome out of newspaper

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 8:44pm

Monday morning in the courtyard of the Art and Architecture Building, Art & Design Prof. Roland Graf’s Studio 3-D class completed their “Michigan Daily Habitat Project.” The goal of the project was to build an 11-foot-6-inch geodesic dome big enough to fit the entire class, using The Michigan Daily newspapers as their main supply.

Graf said the class’s goal was to start exploring the relationship between form, space and structure, as well as to learn the benefits of resourcefulness, precision and team spirit, which he said are some of the basic elements that will help the students succeed throughout the semester. He added that he wanted to use the project as a type of icebreaker so students could get to know each other.

“It helps me to get to know the students and for the students to get to know each other,” he said.

A geodesic dome is a hemispherical, thin-shelled structure. The American Institute of Architects defines the geodesic dome as “the strongest, lightest and most efficient means of enclosing space known to man.”

It is constructed of short struts following geodesic lines and forming an open framework of triangles or polygons. First created for the Zeiss Planetarium in 1922 in Jena, Germany, the principles of its construction were further developed and popularized by Richard Buckminster Fuller, an American architect and engineer.

In constructing the dome, the class used 42 copies of The Michigan Daily. Each copy equaled six 24x21 sheets, with two sheets per strut for 250 struts total. They also used 91 brass fasteners. Graf said he only gave students a handout of the objective and they took it from there.

“They had to figure out how to organize it themselves in task forces,” he said. “It was really impressive actually. I’m happy with how the students took initiative.”

The structure overall was small, but large enough to fit the entire class.

“There are 18 students and they all fit in,” Graf said. “One of them said the dome is bigger than her dorm.”

Graf said overall he thought the class learned a lot about invisible perceptual forces around and between objects.

“It’s a great class,” Graf said. “I am glad this little welcome worked out so well. I also liked how they got their hands on The Michigan Daily.”