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Portable Affordable Reliable: Tensegrity - Geodesic Tent Structures

Shelter Systems' YurtDomes are based on tensegrity and geodesic design principles. We call them Geotensic™. They have the highest strength-to-weight ratio than any dome tent made of the same materials, making Shelter Systems' domes strong, durable, lightweight, and highly portable. Shelter Systems' domes are so compact and lightweight we can ship even our largest 31' dome with UPS to anywhere in the world.

Shelter Systems' domes gain their strength and simplicity and by combining tensegrity and geodesic design principles in their construction. Our structures incorporate tensegrity by having the poles not attached to each other except by the tension of the covering (the poles will not stand on their own without the covering and fasteners). Our structures are geodesic because the shape of the covering and that most of the poles follow the shortest line on a sphere. Geotensic™ structures make possible the greatest strength to weight possible in a self-supporting shelter.

The materials used to make our domes has been chosen to balance strength, durability and affordability. We could use other materials to make our domes stronger, but they would be more expensive, more difficult to assemble, and heavier. The fasteners used are Shelter Systems' own patented Grip Clips, and join the poles to covering without puncturing or weakening the fabric. Tensegrity and geodesic structures are typically confusing for the user to put up, but the tension covering we use in our shelters has connectors attached, and serves as a map for where poles are to be inserted. Most of the poles used are the same length, and can only fit where they belong, so you can't get confused. This makes for a quick and easy assembly. Most of our domes and structures can be set up in less than an hour by one or two people. Two primitive tensegrity designs:

         
A ziz-zag tensegrity. (make your own)

Bob Gillis, the founder and owner of Shelter Systems, has been studying tensegrity (above) and geodesics since the early 1970s. Bob was living in a large suspended tent at the University of Illinois at the time, and it became clear to him that there was a practical way to apply tensegrity to tent structures. Shelter Systems' Geotensic™ tent structure (below) evolved from these tensegrity models. By removing the cable tension network from the outside of the structure and moving to an interior tensile covering, Geotensic™ structures were born. (See New, History and Shapes). Impressively, Shelter Systems' patents cover all dome tents on today's market that have multiple intersecting external poles.

In the photo below, you can see the next stage where the poles are joined end-to-end to make long arches across the covering:

Early dome

The next step was to replace the jointed poles with bent flexible poles, creating our current designs:


So how reliable are Shelter Systems' domes and yurts?
For the materials used, you will not find a stronger self-supporting dome tent. Shelter Systems' domes and yurts are very strong, drum tight, and stand up well in rain, snow and wind. Our domes have endured wind gusts in excess of 50 mph. With proper care, our domes will last many years of use.

Our domes, yurts, and relief tents are lightweight and highly portable structures. However, most structures can fail in extreme wind and snow, and Shelter Systems' structures are no exception. Snow must be periodically brushed off or melted with a heater, and you should never climb on your structure. Continuous strong winds will cause constant vibration, which over time will wear out dome components.

1 1/2-YEAR GUARANTEE. If for any reason you're not completely pleased with your purchase, return it in original, dry and clean condition within 30 days of receipt for a full refund or exchange as you wish. All items in this catalog have a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for 1 1/2 years. Should any product prove defective we will repair or replace it at no cost to you. Special Orders are not returnable. Read Snow and Wind Warnings.

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Questions?   Orders & Customer Service: Toll Free 866-777-1066 or 831- 464-2002 eleanor@shelter-systems.com Technical: 650-323-6202 bob@shelter-systems.com. Copyright © Shelter Systems 1976 - 2011 All Rights Reserved