Evolution of the Dymaxion Project

Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 10:08 PM
Initial Partis:

1. Designing for the individual vs. community
  • Decentralization → Fuller believed that living off the grid gave people the liberty to live wherever, and however they choose
2. Designing from the inside out; from the center outwards
  • No more rectilinear geometry → the rectilinear shape was not the most efficient use of space, and his resolution was to use more circular, hexagonal shapes
  • Central mast → having a central mast in his structures facilitated structure, function and services. The central mast also allowed the use of tension in his steel/metal structures which was considered the most durable construction
3. Efficient material/land/resource use
  • Conservation → Fuller factored in the finite resources of Spaceship Earth; this for him meant “doing more with less” (a considerable difference, he insisted, from ‘less is more’)
  • Tension → See central mast above
  • Minimum surface use → using less surface implies less materials, which was achieve by geometry
4. Neutrality/standardization; versatile
  • Standardized pieces → making pieces from the same mold would make the house more affordable.
  • House as backdrop → the house was meant to be a backdrop to the lives of its inhabitants; the metaphor of a piano Bucky liked to use: the piano is a standardized object but each player imposes his/her interpretation onto it.
  • Transportation → the houses were meant to be place everywhere so the transportation of the materials/houses had to be light enough and standardized
  • Versatile → because the house was meant to be placed everywhere it had to be able to withstand any kind of climate


Square to Hexagon
  • The hexagon is made up of six equilateral triangles which was a stronger and much more stable geometric configuration than the triangle.
  • The equilateral triangles distributed the weight and volume of surfaces more evenly
  • The repeating triangles allowed standardized pieces to be used in construction, cutting cost of manufacturing down
  • The hexagon with its triangles made organization of spaces easier

4D Tower/Lightful House
  • Triangles in the hexagonal tower allowed standardization. We see an early form of pre-fabrication. However, Fuller’s idea of pre-fabrication is often compared to the construction and delivery of a car. Like how cars are always delivered as a complete finished product, so too would Fuller’s Lightful House be delivered as a fully constructed building.
  • This tied into the method of transportation. Because the building was to be fully constructed by time of delivery, the house would be transported by zeppelins. The idea is that a bomb would be dropped from the zeppelin to create a crater. Then the house would be dropped into the hole and the hole filled with cement.
  • This method of delivery is made possibly only by the use of tension with metal. Tension, as opposed to compression, made the building light enough to be carried under zeppelins.
  • A central mast with the hexagonal floor rings made a tensile building possible. The central mast also facilitated services and circulation, and served as support.
  • Sustainability:
  1. Light is directed through a series of strategically placed mirrors in the mast to direct sunlight; passive lighting.
  2. Wind turbine on top of the house generated electricity
  3. Stacking the tower ten stories high conserved land use
  4. In the later stage a windbreaker was place around the tower to direct wind around the building. Fuller discovered that the drag created by wind passing through was a major source of heat loss. By placing a windbreaker around the building the structure would be insulated by minimal heat loss.

4D (Dymaxion) House
  • The residential project became one unit instead of a tower. This made more sense in regards to what people were accustomed to in their vision of a home. The tower was an abstract idea whereas the 4D House was much more achievable.
  • Central mast was kept for tension, circulation, organization of rooms and spaces. The central mast also housed the reflective mirrors that allowed passive lighting.
  • Hexagonal geometry was also seen in this building to make the use of tension in aluminum possible; this also played into the idea of a light, transportable house. Pre-fabrication was still a central parti and the geometry was indispensible to making this possible.
  • Pre-fabrication of the house now included built in walls.
  • Sustainability introduced a gardening program on the balcony. Fuller was moving towards an ‘off-the-grid’ suburbia that included self-agriculture.

Time break – during this time Fuller invented the Dymaxion Car and Dymaxion Bathroom, which was to feature the Fog gun and a Packaging Toilet.

DDU: Dymaxion Deployment Units
  • By approaching the Butler Company (the company that produced the grain bins that inspired Fuller to develop this project) Fuller reduced the cost of the DDUs significantly by using an pre-existing assembly line, tools, and factory.
  • The central mast was kept to facilitate circulation and organization of space.
  • The materiality of the building allowed it to withstand any kind of harsh climates, making it versatile and adoptable.
  • Prefabrication took on a new and much more recognizable form: the houses would use standardized pieces, shipping, and allow easy assembly.
  • Prefabrication detailed the partitions that come with the shelters
  • Sustainability
  1. Lightening with strategically placed reflective mirrors
  2. Discovered the shape of the DDUs allowed passive air circulation. The DDUs could keep cool in hot climates.

DDM: Dymaxion Dwelling Machine → Wichita House
  • Taking inspiration from the circular shape of the DDUs, the DDMs were made circular and domed shaped to reduce the use of resources.
  • Prefabrication: the house would be shipped in containers that would fit in aircraft, truck, train and ship cargo. The weight of these houses was intended to be 2.7 tons, light enough for easy and quick assembly with relatively inexperienced crew. Prefabrication for the DDMs meant a fully detailed house with built in furniture (O-Volving shelves, dishwashers, laundry etc) and the Dymaxion Bathroom
  • To be built in the Beech Air Force Company using airplane technology, assembly line, and tools and thereby cutting the cost of manufacturing
  • Any part of the house would not weigh more than 10 pounds to allow for smaller assembly crew.
  • Affordability: in addition to the above-described advantages, the house could be bought for the price of an automobile, and could be paid off in five years.
  • Maintenance: air vents in the house made the house dust free. Round radius corners allowed for easy cleaning. The house did not need to be painted and newer models of furniture/appliances could easily replace older models.
  • The house was constructed to withstand harsh climates making it versatile and adoptable.
  • Sustainability:
  1. Water was to be collected by carlins to be filtered and recycled
  2. Passive heating and cooling; inspired by DDUs
  3. Passive lighting directed by strategically placed mirrors.

1 Responses to Evolution of the Dymaxion Project

  1. Carrie Cheng Says:

    I will be posting our parti diagrams soon...I promise!!

Post a Comment