Pinto, Izis Salvador. "Lightweight and Transparent Domes," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 6, issue 3 (2012): 124-134.
Domes have existed for centuries, from ancient domed structures such as Igloos to contemporary domes such as the Eden Project. However, over the years there has been a gradual shift in construction of long-span domes, from the use of opaque and heavy materials, to the use of transparent and lightweight structures. The development in material technology provides the opportunity to reduce the weight of materials and structures to be lightweight and high-strength, saving energy, fuel, and contributing to the low carbon agenda. The progress in materials science and the evolution in the technology of construction and manufacturing in architecture make the utopian ideas of the past into a reality. Domes with Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushions as cladding system are lightweight and transparent structures. ETFE is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly material. The advantages of ETFE, compared to glass, is that ETFE is one per cent of the weight of glass, transmits more light and costs far less to install. Furthermore, this material does not degrade under ultraviolet light and is unaffected by atmospheric pollutants. This paper presents an overview of contemporary long-span domes constructed with lightweight materials, from the domes in buildings, to the possibility of achieving large city-dome enclosures.