I’ve been more or less living out of a suitcase for several months now, so when I saw that one of Europe’s first geodesic domes was for sale I rushed to bid for it with the last of my savings. The Aviodome, as the former National Aviation Museum at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was known, was designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and completed in 1971. With 2700 m2 of floor space, a radius of 34.14m and height of 23m, the aluminium dome at Schiphol was the largest of its time.
In 2003 the museum moved to a new building at Lelystad Airport, leaving the original Aviodome behind. The Living Gospel Church bought it the following year and the dome was dismantled and packed away into 29 containers in preparation for its move to Haarlemmermeer in North Holland. Dome watchers concerned that there was no sign of a reassembled dome (the website Waar is het Aviodome? – ‘Where is the Aviodome?’ – was set up in 2008) have had to wait until now for more news.
Unable to get permission to construct the dome, its owner is fed up of paying 700 euros a month for storage and at the beginning of November put the dome up for sale, asking for bids and a statement from interested buyers. I explained that I have always wanted to own a dome of my own; a structure of exceptional strength with a high ratio of enclosed area to surface; an ideal icosahedral home (office, too, possibly) that I was willing to share with others in exchange for a hand with assembling it, which looks quite daunting to judge by this video from 1971.
When I checked back the next day a sold sign had already gone up on the site. (I don’t know how my offer compared; I suspect it was on the low side.) If the new owner – I’m still trying to find out who it is and would be grateful for any leads – has made an impulse buy they now regret, Fuller’s 1969 book An Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth should provide the necessary encouragement. As the self-styled ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’ says, ‘we begin by eschewing the role of specialists who deal only in parts. Becoming deliberately expansive instead of contractive, we ask: “How do we think in terms of wholes?” If it is true that the bigger the thinking becomes the more lastingly effective it is, we must ask: “How big can we think?”’