Cultural Narrative Behind the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine

Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 8:29 PM
(This part is only to supplement the timeline below.)

Fuller resigned from the U.S. Board of Economics a year before the war was over so that he could spend time on his Dymaxion Dwelling Machine in time for the war veterans arriving back home. More than ever, Bucky anticipated the need for economic, versatile, quick-assembly, and efficient housing. His inspiration for this project is an accumulation of all his previous models; amassed partis and their resolutions that became more enhanced and refined in the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine.

The project was rejected the first time it was proposed to the government but it was turned down due to the scarcity of materials. It wasn’t until the Beech Air Force Company moved to Wichita, Kansas that the idea of the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine was revisited. The Beech Company had relocated its factories because fear of German intercontinental ballistic missile attacks threatened the factories. The workers that were relocated were leaving the company due to poor working environments and the DDM seemed like the perfect solution.

The first prototype was constructed indoors. Any one component weighed less than 10 pounds so that anyone putting the house together could hold the component in one hand and install it with the other. The aircraft company was the first that applied aircraft technology to housing. This was an economic move on Fuller’s project: the DDMs were built in the same assembly line as the military aircrafts using the same materials, workers and tools.

Response to the house was enthusiastic, as reported by the national medias. Stocks sold well based on the first model, and 3500 orders were put in. The visitors enjoyed the light, elegant ambiance and the women especially, appreciated the air filtration system that minimized housework.

The house was priced for sale at $6500 ($40,000 today’s currency), the same price as a car and could be paid off in five years!

In the end it was due to circumstantial political and economical issues that ceased the production of the project. Bucky was adamant that the project was not perfected: he was insistent that the project would not be successful until it reached the gestation period in 1952, seven years away. He hid the patents and had them stamped ‘obsolete’ so that production and advertisement could not continue. The installation of plumbing and electricity was off the grid, and as a result, the local union contractors refused to cooperate and no other trained installers were provided. Finally it was mainly the tooling cost of the project that doomed its production. Beech did not intend to pay for tooling of the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine and had new airplanes to build. Bank loans were out of the questions due to squabbles among directors, unfinished project patents, and union troubles.


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