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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Buckminster Fuller

  • On November 11, 2005

it must be Buckminster Fuller week here on Interactive Architecture

R. Buckminster Fuller, 1980

Every so often I like to highlight a few of the truely inspirational characters of Interactive Architecture from long before there were such things as CAD/CAM, or parametric design, or even microchips. After posting my last blog about the new nano composite material ‘Buckypaper’ and ‘Bucky I felt that It was about time I gave Buckminster Fuller a post of his own and to be fair he deserves more that just one post because in his life time his work as an architect, inventor, engineer, mathamatican, poet and cosmologist created 28 patents including… Stockade (1927), 4D House (1928), Dymaxion Car (1937), Dymaxion House, Geodesic Dome (1954), Paperboard Dome (1959), and then many more geometric marvels.

Fuller never got an Architectural degree and in fact didn’t even get a license until he was awarded one as an honor when he was in his late 60s. This did not prevent him from designing the geodesic dome: the only kind of building that can be set on the ground as a complete structure–and with no limiting dimension. The strength of the frame actually increases in ratio to its size, enclosing the largest volume of space with the least area of surface. This was his virtuoso invention, and he said it illustrated his strategy of “starting with wholes” rather than parts.

Three Dymaxion Cars were constructed in 1933 and 1934, pioneering many significant automotive design innovations. These included front-wheel drive, rear engine and rear steering, and aerodynamic streamlining.

Fullers 4D House 1928

Triton City

In the early 1960’s a design for a floating city for Tokyo Bay was commissioned. After the death of the projects original Japanese patron in 1966, the project was taken over by the United States Office of Housing and Urban Development. Pictured is a single neighborhood module of this “Triton City” designed to house 6,500 people. Three to six of these neighborhoods combine to make a town, three to seven towns, with the addition of municipal modules of appropriate size, a city. Made from steel or concrete, these twenty-story stuctures are designed to be constructed in shipyards and towed to their destinations.

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