Specifics and Timeline for the Dymaxion Project

Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 4:36 AM

Name: Dymaxion House Project 1944

Address, location, and site: After the Wichita Dymaxion House, located at Rosehill Kansas when it was in use by William Graham, no other full-scale prototypes of the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine were ever built.

It should be noted that the Wichita Dymaxion House is a modified and salvaged version of the original Dymaxion House prototype. According to the Henry Ford Museum, which currently houses the Wichita Dymaxion House, Fuller’s team was “still re-designing whole systems when the project was terminated. There are original drawings for component parts and systems, some of which did not get built, other which were still conceptual.”

Scale and size: The Dymaxion Dwelling Machine could fit in a container designed to fit aircraft cargo compartments and ordinary trucks so it may be delivery anywhere. The container would have weighed 2.7 tons; 50 times less than an conventional house that weighs 135 tons. The completed Wichita House span 11 meters across in diameter and 4.87 meters high.

How it is made: Sixteen inexperienced workers erected The Wichita House in two days of cold, windy weather. The house was built out of Aluminum and other metallurgy, which were more readily available due to the war. To take full advantage of this situation, Bucky developed the house to be manufactured in a military aircraft assembly line, which was used to working with the latest alloys in warplanes. This economic move was further realized when the same workers with the same tools and skills would stay on after the war, providing a new industry of jobs.


1895 Richard Buckminster Fuller is born to Richard Buckminster Fuller Sr., and Caroline Wolcott (Andrews) Fuller in Milton.

1913 Fuller enters Harvard University following a five generation tradition. He is expelled a year later and put into work as a machine fitter at a textile mill in Quebec, his family business. His performance at the factory got him reinstated at Harvard in fall 1914.

1915 Fuller is expelled from Harvard due to a “lack of ambition”. He becomes a meatpacking worker in New York, working 6 days a week.

1916 Bucky gets engaged to Anne Hewlett, daughter James Monroe Hewlett, a prominent New York architect at the time. Their marriage faced a lot of turbulence throughout the year but would last 66 years.

1917 Bucky enlists in the U.S. Navy Reserve. It is during this time he developed the concept of “ephemeralization” whereby the “evolution of complex systems towards ever lighter, more efficient and more invisible forms.” His later designs were often inspired by naval machinery and technology.

1918 Bucky’s first child Alexandra is born on December 12.

1922 Alexandra dies from spinal meningitis and infantile paralysis. Fuller takes this news badly and blames himself for not having provided better living conditions. He founds the Stockade Corporation with his father in law. The company advertized a new building system that used compressed bricks to construct light but sturdy buildings. The company completed 240 houses but became bankrupt in 1926 and is sold to Celotex Company.

1927 His second daughter Allegra is born in Chicago. Fuller considers himself a failure and contemplates suicide.

“It was jump, or think” – RBF

Instead, Bucky undergoes deep contemplation for one year, and sets new goals for himself. He wanted to dedicate his life to finding economic solutions for the average man so that they can lead a better and more fulfilled life. Throughout this profound year, Bucky is immersed in deep study and meditation, often speaking to no one.

1928 Bucky completes a blueprint of the 4D Timelock Tower, which is distributed at the American Institute of Architects in St. Louis. 200 mimeographed copies were handed out. The central problem Bucky wanted to address was “the great economic problem of this age and all ages – The Home.” In his proposal he introduced:

  • Standardization, which was manifested into mass-produced housing using modern materials: “To poorer classes, is the subject of this volume – an object of the highest practical utility to man. It delineates a new mode of inclosing public edifices and private residences, far better, every way and several hundred percent cheaper, than any other; and will enable the poor but ingenious man to erect a comfortable dwelling at a trifling cost, and almost without the aid or cost, as now, of mechanics.”
  • House machine – “the mass production house, healthy (and morally so too) and beautiful in the same way that working tools and instruments which accompany our existence are beautiful.”
  • Decentralization – suburban location without any underground grids that restrict us from living the way we were meant to
  • Metal – different from any tools of other ages, its fiber and tensile strength should be used to our advantage
  • Air delivery – he envisioned delivering complete, mass produced homes as you would deliver a car.

In the same year Bucker proposed the 4D House.

1929 Dymaxion is coined by a radio broadcaster who thought 4D sounded like an apartment number. Second paper model of 4D (Dymaxion) House is constructed.

1930 T-Square a magazine is bought by Fuller who changes the name to Shelter.

A potential investor who asks for the cost to make a full-scale version of the 4D Dymaxion House and Fuller retorted that it would take “100 million dollars” which ends the conversation promptly approaches him. In spite of his promotional campaign the 4D philosophy was only known to a handful of people

1933 Fuller founds the Dymaxion Corporation in Connecticut and builds the first Dymaxion Car.

1940 Fuller discovers the strength behind grain bins and approaches the Butler Manufacturing Company of Kansas City that manufactured these containers to build the Dymaxion Deployment Units. These cost efficient, weather-proof, quick-assemble, and transportable shelters were sent to house radar equipment and troops in rural, isolated conditions of WWII.

1944 Fuller resigns from the U.S. Board of Economics to design his Dymaxion Dwelling Machines in anticipation of the war veterans that will be returning.

1948 The Wichita House is bought by William Graham for a dollar and modified to become an extension of his house.

1952 The year Bucky predicted would be the time the gestation period of the Dymaxion House arrived.

The Dymaxion Dwelling Machine was never successful in the monetary sense. Despite receiver 3500 orders the project was never realized.

After the Dymaxion Project, Buckminster Fuller would become a teacher, receive the highest civilian award from President Ronal Reagan, and author many books. He would coin the philosophy of Synergetic and patent geodesic domes and the Dymaxion Air-Ocean Map. One of his most noteworthy achievements would be the Biosphere in Montreal for the Expo 67’. Although many of Bucky’s ideas and designs would not be considered successful at the time, he would become the inspiration of many projects in the future.

1 Responses to Specifics and Timeline for the Dymaxion Project

  1. Carrie Cheng Says:

    Can someone please help me edit the font/font size of this post? For some reason they won't change and I don't know what's wrong. THANK YOU.

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