Title:
Tapered Hexagon Building Block
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tapered hexagon building block and a method for building spherical and hemispherical structures from the building block disclosed. The building block can have both a male and a female element for use as an interlocking mechanism for added strength and fitting guidance during construction. The block can be sized for use both as a toy and for use in building temporary or permanent spherical and hemispherical structures. The blocks can be composed of any suitable building material such as the group composed of glass, wood, metal, plastic, quartz, sand, ceramic, clay, brick, concrete, carbon, compressed soot, or any other such building material suitable for the use of the specific structure. The block can be solid or hollow and can be made of any clear material with thin walls to promote the passage of light or solid and opaque to block the passage of light. The block can be sized to accommodate the size of the spherical, or hemispherical structure desired, and the structures formed with the blocks can be assembled with or without permanent bonding agents or other connecting devices. Due to the nature of the tapered hexagon shape of the block, the structure formed becomes stronger with each successive layer of blocks added as a result of compression strength. When the blocks are made with a semisolid or malleable material, the blocks within the structure meld together under pressure from the structure mass to form a single solid spherical or hemispherical component.



Inventors:
Woodcock, Terah Earl (Santa Fe, NM, US)
Application Number:
12/258423
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
10/26/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/608
International Classes:
E04B7/08; E04C1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KWIECINSKI, RYAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TERAH EARL WOODCOCK (COSTA MESA, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is as follows:

1. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure, comprising: a building block; wherein the building block is tapered; wherein the building block is hexagonal; wherein the building block includes a first three sides and a second three sides opposing the first three sides; wherein the first three sides are near identical to the second three sides.

2. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein the building block is adapted to be used in a spherical structure.

3. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein the building block is adapted to be used in a hemispherical structure.

4. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first three sides includes a concave surface.

5. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the second three sides includes a concave surface.

6. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first three sides includes a convex surface.

7. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the second three sides includes a convex surface.

8. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first three sides includes a flat surface.

9. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the second three sides includes a flat surface.

10. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first and second sides includes an inside flat surface.

11. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first and second sides includes a inside concave surface.

12. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first and second sides includes an outside convex surface.

13. A building block apparatus adapted to be used to form a structure as in claim 1, wherein at least one side of the first and second sides includes a outside flat surface.

14. A structure formed from building blocks, comprising: a first block; a second block for cooperating with the first block to form a portion of the structure; wherein the first building block is tapered; wherein the first building block is hexagonal; wherein the first building block includes a first three sides and a second three sides opposing the first three sides; wherein the first three sides are near identical to the second three sides.

15. A structure formed from building blocks as in claim 14, wherein the second building block is tapered; wherein the second building block is hexagonal; wherein the second building block includes a first three sides and a second three sides opposing the first three sides; wherein the first three sides are near identical to the second three sides.

16. A structure formed from building blocks as in claim 14, wherein the structure is a spherical structure.

17. A structure formed from building blocks as in claim 14, wherein the structure is a hemispherical structure.

Description:

PRIORITY

This is based upon provisional patent Ser. No. 61/000,708 with the filing date of Oct. 26, 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a building block apparatus, and more specifically a tapered hexagon building block, with either flat, concave or convex outside and inside arc surfaces, or a combination thereof, that forms a tessellation of hexagons in a mosaic pattern to build geometric structures in the shape of a sphere or hemisphere. Due to the shape of the tapered hexagon building block, when fitted together with sufficient other such building blocks, the naturally occurring structure is that of a sphere or hemisphere.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Architects, engineers and science fiction writers have long dreamed of glass domed cities, both on earth and for construction on earth's moon and on other planets when eventually colonized. The purpose of the dome is to provide a controlled atmosphere and environment that is both desirable and perhaps necessary. The benefits of living in a glass domed city include, among many other things, an enclosed space free of structural supports, an environment free from exposure to the elements, a temperature and moisture controlled atmosphere, and protection from devastating natural catastrophes such as those created by tornadoes and hurricanes through the inherent structural strength of the aerodynamic structure.

According to public records, the first architectural structure that can be called a “geodesic dome” was designed by Walther Bauersfeld, chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss optical company, in the early 1920s. The dome was patented and constructed by the Dykerhoff and Wydmann firm as a planetarium on the roof of the Zeiss plant in Jena, Germany, and opened to the public in about 1922.

Some thirty years later Richard Buckminster Fuller further investigated this concept and named the structure the “geodesic dome” from field experiments with Kenneth Snelson and others at Black Mountain College in the late 1940s. Then, in 1954 Fuller patented the “Geodesic Dome” (U.S. Pat. No. 2,682,235) in which he devised a method of assembling triangular components to form a “three-way grid’ of structural members to construct geodesic structures. In three successive patents issued in 1959, (U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,881,717, 2,919,074 and 2,914,074) Fuller further refined the method of construction geodesic domes that remain in use today. Again in 1965 (U.S. Pat. No. 3,197,927), Fuller further refined the invention with a hexagon framework that pieces together for constructing geodesic domes. Today, the larger, more modern geodesic structures now use this method of construction.

Since Fuller's initial patent, thousands of geodesic domes have been constructed around the world. Other inventors, building on Fuller's ideas, have patented other variations in methods and/or apparatus for constructing the geodesic dome. Since Fuller's first patent, architects and engineers have managed to built small examples of geodesic dome architecture for practical use on a limited scale.

Dome examples include Fantasy Entertainment Complex, Kyosho Isle, Japan, which boast a dome that is 710 feet in diameter, the Multi-Purpose Arena dome, Nagoya, Japan, is 614 feet in diameter, and the great Mall of America dome covers about 80 acres of floor space, has 500 stores, 80 restaurants and an indoor amusement park. Others include Biosphere 2 which is a large glass laboratory dome that covers a little more than three acres, and the Eden greenhouses in Cornwall, UK are a composition of geodesic domes that cover about five acres. In a departure from Fuller's traditional dome construction, an unusual stadium dome, located in British Columbia, is composed of a fabric shell held up by air pressure. In this stadium, sixteen large fans provide the air pressure to support the dome.

One thing that the larger traditional geodesic domes have in common, is that they require an elaborate supporting structural framework. Fitted triangles arranged into varying geometrical patterns, or hexagonal patterns, are attached to a proportionally curved framework. In existing structures, many flat panels are formed into triangles, pentagons, hexagons or other polygons and are pieced together to form the curved surface. Today's geodesic designs are remarkable in that in most, if not all, structures, none of the individual pieces are curved, but are arranged together in such a manner as to form the somewhat rounded structure.

Additionally, the supporting framework for the dome must be assembled along with the construction of an elaborate scaffolding that provides a platform for the assembly of the framework and application of the covering. The scaffolding erected during the Eden Project was so elaborate that designers and contractors received construction awards as the first of its size. The need for the supporting framework and the scaffolding during construction, makes it virtually impossible to construct domes of a significant size. Such requirements also makes it impossible to construct a dome over an existing city or even over a large portion of an existing city.

Notwithstanding Fuller's work and the continuing work of other inventors, a practical method of covering an area the size of a large city with a glass dome has eluded creative minds, until the present invention. The present invention consist of a simple tapered hexagon building block that fits together with other such blocks to form a round surface, geodesic sphere or hemisphere. The structure does not need a supporting framework and can be assembled without the need of constructing an elaborate scaffolding platform.

When building large structures, sections of the tapered hexagon building blocks may be assembled on the ground and fitted into position with large cranes and, as the structure increases in size, with construction helicopters. The size of the domed structures that can be constructed is virtually without upper limits. Theoretically, with use of the tapered hexagon building block, dome size may even approach and/or exceed 10 miles in diameter and five miles high, the height of Mt. Everest from sea level.

The use of translucent building blocks, such as glass blocks for both interior and exterior construction is well known, as is solid building blocks. However, in the present state of the art in accordance with the present invention, there is no similar tapered hexagon building block designed to independently construct spherical or hemispherical structures.

Notwithstanding the conspicuous absence of tapered hexagon building block in the state of the art, other inventors have created both hollow and solid glass bricks. For instance, in 1811, C. W. McLean patented, U.S. Pat. No. 250,635, a “Glass Building Blocks For Sea Walls.” In 1884, F. H. Shaw patented, U.S. Pat. No. 298,418, “Bricks Made of Glass,” and in 1889 G. Falconnier, U.S. Pat. No. 402,073, patented a “Glass Building Block” for vertical walls in which one design was six sided but not hexagonal in shape.

A more recent “Building Block” was patented in 1937 by J. C. Keaney, U.S. Pat. No. 2,086,185, in a hexagonal shape for constructing vertical walls. U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,281,524, 4,636,413, 4,651,486, 4,719,735, 4,753,622, 4,852,321, 4,922,678, 5,067,295, claim various building block designs, all designed for vertical walls and/or for cornering vertical walls. The absence of the tapered hexagonal design within the state of the art within more than 127 years of building blocks designs, attest to the fact that the “tapered hexagonal building block” was historically, and is, far from the “logical next step.”

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a translucent or opaque, tapered hexagon building block and a method for building spherical and hemispherical structures. The building block consist of a pair of outside and inside flat or rounded arc surfaces with edges that are hexagonal in shape. The block has three pairs (six sides) of identical opposing tapering walls that together form a tapered hexagon shape and connect the outside and inside arc surfaces to form a hollow or solid, tapered hexagon building block. Each block may be fitted with both a male and female locking mechanism on opposing sides, that may be about one-fourth the length of the block, as a guide during construction and to lock the blocks together for a permanent fit.

The outside and inside arc surfaces have a preselected outside and inside arc length, either flat, convex or concave, or a combination thereof. The ratio of the outside arc length and inside arc length are predetermined. The ratio is based upon one degree of arc, or upon any multiple number of degrees of a circle, or a fractional length of one degree of arc as required for the size of the desired geodesic sphere or geodesic dome project.

The copasetic inside and outside arc length, with any size ratio, may be designed in a configuration that is necessary for the size and stability of the spherical or hemispherical project desired. A sufficient number of blocks fitted together, in any arc length and size ratio, will form either a sphere or a hemisphere.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a geodesic sphere composed of the tapered hexagon building blocks.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a geodesic hemisphere composed of the tapered hexagon building blocks sitting on a raised foundation representing a possible construction format for a domed city.

FIG. 3A is a front, FIG. 3B, a side view, FIG. 3C a back view, FIG. 3D a top view, and FIG. 3E an isometric view of the tapered hexagon building block, in a design ratio of 2:1. FIG. 3B(a) illustrates a convex outside arc surface and FIG. 3B(b) a concave inside arc surface, FIG. 3B(c) shows the male and FIG. 3B(d) the female interlocking mechanism.

FIGS. 4A-4E are five side views of the hexagon building block, in a design ratio of 2:1, showing varying inside and outside edge configurations. FIG. 4A illustrates a convex outside arc surface and a concave inside arc surface, FIG. 4B shows a convex outside arc surface and a flat inside arc surface, FIG. 4C shows a flat outside arc surface and a flat inside arc surface, FIG. 4D shows a flat outside arc surface and a concave inside arc surface, and FIG. 4E illustrates a flat outside arc surface and a convex inside arc surface.

FIGS. 5A-5H are five side views of the hexagon building block, with a convex outside arc surface and a concave inside arc surface, illustrating various design ratios of block lengths in relationship to the arc length of the outside arc surface of the block. FIG. 5A illustrates a 2:1 ratio, FIG. 5B shows a 3:1 ratio, FIG. 5C shows a 6:1 ratio, FIG. 5D shows a 9:1 ratio, FIG. 5E shows an 12:1 ratio, FIG. 5F shows a 16:1 ratio, FIG. 5G shows a 24:1 ratio, and FIG. 5H illustrates a 30:1 ratio. In each illustration, the first number represents the relationship of the length of the block in regard to the “1” which represents the block outside arc length.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention consist of a translucent or opaque, tapered hexagon building block and a method of constructing curved, FIGS. 1 & 2, spherical, FIG. 1, and hemispherical, FIG. 2, structures. The illustration in FIG. 1, demonstrates a spherical structure constructed with multiple units of the tapered hexagon building block. FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a geodesic dome (hemisphere), sitting on a supporting foundation, constructed with the tapered hexagon building blocks in a manner that might be used to span a city.

The building block consist of a pair of outside, FIG. 3B(a), and inside flat or rounded arc surfaces, FIG. 3B(b), with edges that are hexagonal in shape, FIG. 3A. The block has three pairs (six sides) of identical opposing tapering walls, FIG. 3A, that together form a tapered hexagonal configuration which connect the outside and inside arc surfaces to form either a hollow or a solid, tapered hexagon building block, FIG. 3E. Each block may be fitted with both a male, FIG. 3B(c), and female, FIG. 3B(d), locking mechanism on opposing sides that may be any size or, preferably, one-fourth the length of the block.

The tapered hexagon building block, as illustrated in FIG. 4A-4E, represents a design ratio of 2:1, and demonstrates, but does not limit, varying outside and inside edge configurations that may be employed in the design of the block. The outside and inside arc surfaces have preselected copasetic arc lengths which may be flat, convex, or concave or any intermixed combination thereof. The combinations may be either a convex outside and a concave inside, FIG. 4A; a convex outside and a flat inside, FIG. 4B; a flat outside and a flat inside, FIG. 4C; a flat outside and a concave inside, FIG. 4D; a flat outside and a convex inside, or any other combination thereof. The outside and inside surface arc lengths are based upon one degree of arc, or upon any multiple number of degrees, or a fractional length of one degree of arc, depending upon the size of the spherical or hemispherical project desired. As illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5H the building block may be any length to arc ratio that promotes stability for the size of the project.

Accordingly, a block with a one inch outside surface arc would require 360 blocks fitted together to form a circle of blocks with a 360 inch outside circumference (30 feet) [360 degree circle×one inch outside surface arc length=360 inch outside circumference]. With a 4:1 building ratio (four inches long for each outside surface arc inch), a block with an outside one inch arch length is four inches long, and has an inside surface arc length of 0.93018 inches. The 360 block configuration has an inside circumference of 334.8673 inches, 27.9056 feet, and a diameter of 9.5493 feet. [360 degree circle×0.983018 inch inside arc length=334.8673 inch inside circumference.] Sufficient blocks fitted together would form a small hemisphere, FIG. 2, about 4.7747 feet high.

On a somewhat larger scale for example, a block with a 10 inch outside surface arc length, FIG. 3B(a), requires 360 blocks to fit together to form a circle of blocks with a 3,600 inch, 300 feet, outside circumference. With a randomly chosen 10:1 building ratio, FIG. 5F, (10 inches long for each outside surface arc inch), a block with a 10 inch arc length, would be 100 inches long (8.3333 feet), and have an inside surface arc length of 8.2547 inches, 0.6879 feet. The 360 block configuration has an inside circumference of 2,971.6821 inches, 247.6402 feet, and an inside diameter of 78.8264 feet. [360 degree circle×8.2547 inch inside arc length=2,971.6821 inch, or 78.8264 feet, inside diameter.]

In a reverse building mode, in order to construct a larger geodesic dome, FIG. 2, with a one-half mile diameter and a one-fourth mile height, requires only a simple calculations to determine the required size of the tapered hexagon building block. A one-half mile diameter hemisphere dome, 2,640 feet, equals 8,293.7876 feet in circumference. [3.14159 (pi)×2,649 feet diameter=8,293.7876.] The outside circumference divided by 360 degrees (one arc degree) equals 23.0383 feet arc length per tapered hexagon building block. A 23.0383 foot arc length block; with a 2:1 construction ratio, would be about 46.0766 feet long. A block of this size may be difficult to manufacture in sufficient quantities in today's technology. Therefore, the building block may be divided into any number of fractional units of the one degree of arc, the total of which would equal the 23.0383 foot composite tapered hexagon building block.

Additionally, block length is not limited to demonstrated ratios as shown in FIG. 5A-5H, but may be any ratio that provides the desired stability for the size of the project contemplated. Projects that may be of substantial size, measured in kilometers or miles in diameter and/or circumference, may have less, or even greater ratios for both structural stability and for anchoring the structure to the earth. The outside and inside arc length of such a project would be measured in fractions of one degree of arc that would fit together to form the requisite one degree of arc composite block. Additionally, the building block is not limited in size, but may be large enough to provide interior interactive space. The interactive space may be used for storage, electrical generation from solar energy, living accommodations, or other such uses.