Buckminster Fuller

The Actions and Legacies of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist

Actions: Innovation

"
You can't better the world by simply talking to it. Philosophy to be effective must be mechanically applied.
R. Buckminster Fuller

The Dymaxion Logo
The Dymaxion Logo

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion World

Dymaxion (Dynamic Maximum Tension) became the "brand name" Buckminster Fuller used to describe his feats of architecture, design, and even cartography.

Dymaxion House Elevation and Floor Plan
Dymaxion House Elevation
and Floor Plan

Dymaxion House

Fuller claimed handmaking houses was inefficient. He unveiled his Dymaxion House in Chicago in 1929. Mass-producing homes like cars was a new concept. His structure was based around a central pole which contained heating, cooling, sewage, and water subsystems. The rooms branched out in a hexagonal shape from that pole.

Illustration of Fuller's Dymaxion Homes
Illustration of Fuller's Dymaxion Homes
Dymaxion Car Prototype
Dymaxion Car Prototype

Dymaxion Car


This uniquely-shaped car was an extraordinary feat. Fuller said, "It proved to be a very good vehicle, with very high efficiency, seating eleven passengers and averaging 22 miles to the gallon; sometimes I got as much as 30 miles. And because it was steered from the rear, when I wanted to park in a space just the length of my car, I would simply bring my nose into the curb and throw my rear wheels sideways, and she went right in—flop—like that." Fuller's car was revolutionary in many ways: "Henry Ford had given me a 70 percent discount on all the equipment I could use, and with his then brand-new V-8 engine, we finally got the 90 horsepower engine to do 120 mph." A fatal car wreck at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 was the design's demise. Negative newpaper articles failed to report that the car's design was proven not to be the cause.

Dymaxion Map Projection
Dymaxion Map Projection

Dymaxion Map

Buckminster Fuller wanted to reduce map distortion so he created the 2D Dymaxion projection that could be arranged in many ways and folded into a globe.

Geodesic Dome

According to Jay Baldwin, student of Fuller and author, "...geodesic domes are based on optimal synergetic principles — 'the coordinates of Universe' — Bucky expected that no more efficient building system would ever be found". The dome's advantages include ease of construction, extreme durability, and material efficiency.

The dome holds the men during construction
The dome holds the men during construction

Construction


The geodesic dome is a spherically-shaped structure composed of adjacent triangles. They are meshed to create the highest strength-to-weight ratio possible. The triangles are geometrically similar and inexpensively manufactured, lending benefits to the fabrication of the design.

North Face's geodesic tents
North Face's geodesic tents

Durability


Fuller envisioned his dome being used as a portable shelter that conservatively uses resources. The North Face company still uses geodesic design today in its strongest tents.

Geodesic Dome blueprint
Geodesic Dome blueprint

Efficiency


Fuller searched for the balances between volume to weight, required resources to surface area, and building time to portability. The dome's light weight and minimal material use contradicts its large size and ease of production. It was hailed as the lightest, strongest, and most cost-efficient structure.


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