These are preferable to arches where the large column-free area to be covered is circular, elliptical, or approximately an equal-sided polygon. They often have been used for the roofs of exhibition buildings, arenas, coal storage, church glass roof, and conference hall roof. Also, the feasibility of covering large stadiums with domes has been demonstrated. Domes are relatively lightweight, despite long spans, because they can be shaped so that loads induce mainly axial stresses.
Domes may be readily supported on columns, without ties or buttresses, because they can be shaped to produce little or no thrust. For a shallow dome, a tension ring usually is provided around the base to resist thrusts. If desired, however, domes may be extended to grade, thus eliminating the need for walls .
You have a choice of a wide variety of structural systems for domes. In general, dome construction may be categorized as single-layer framing double-layer framing, or space frame, for greater resistance to buckling; and stressed skin, with the roof deck acting integrally with structural framing. Greater stiffness can be obtained by dimpling, pleating, or undulating the surface.
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