The Dymaxion House was developed by inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller to address several perceived shortcomings with existing homebuilding techniques. Fuller designed several versions of the house at different times, but they were all factory manufactured kits, assembled on site, intended to be suitable for any site or environment and to use resources efficiently. One important design consideration was ease of shipment and assembly.
The word Dymaxion is a brand name that Fuller used for several of his inventions.
The Dymaxion was completed during 1929 after two years of development, and later redesigned during 1945. Buckminster Fuller wanted to mass produce a bathroom and a house. His first "Dymaxion" design was based on the design of a grain bin. During World War II, the U.S. Army commissioned Fuller to send these housing units to the Persian Gulf. In 1945, science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein placed an order for one to be delivered to Los Angeles, but the order was never filled.
The Siberian grain-silo house was the first system in which Fuller noted the "dome effect." Many installations have reported that a dome induces a local vertical steam driven vortex that sucks cooler air downward into a dome if the dome is vented properly (a single overhead vent, and peripheral vents). Fuller adapted the later units of the grain-silo house to use this effect.
The final design of the Dymaxion house used a central vertical stainless-steel strut on a single foundation. Structures similar to the spokes of a bicycle-wheel hung down from this supporting the roof, while beams radiated out supported the floor. Wedge-shaped fans of sheet metal aluminum formed the roof, ceiling and floor. Each structure was assembled at ground level and then winched up the strut. The Dymaxion house represented the first conscious effort to build an autonomous building during the 20th century.
It was a prototype proposed to use a packaging toilet, water storage and a convection-driven ventilator built into the roof. It was designed for the stormy areas of the world: temperate oceanic islands, and the Great Plains of North America, South America and Eurasia. In most modern houses, laundry, showers and commodes are the major water uses, with drinking, cooking and dish-washing consuming less than 20 liters per day. The Dymaxion house was intended to reduce water use by a grey water system, a packaging commode, and a "fogger" to replace showers. The fogger was based on efficient compressed-air and water degreasers, but with much smaller water particles to make it comfortable.
The real Dymaxion house
Two Dymaxion houses were prototyped — one indoor (the "Barwise" house) and one outdoor (the "Danbury" house). No Dymaxion house built according to Fuller's intentions was ever constructed and lived in. The only two prototypes of the round, aluminum house were bought by investor William Graham, together with assorted unused prototyping elements as salvage after the venture failed. During 1948, Graham constructed a hybridized version of the Dymaxion House as his family's home; the Grahams lived there into the 1970s. Graham built the round house on his lake front property, disabling the ventilator and other interior features. It was inhabited for about 30 years, although as an extension to an existing ranch house, rather than standing alone as intended by Fuller. During 1990, the Graham family donated this house, and all the component prototyping parts, to The Henry Ford Museum. A painstaking process was used to conserve as many original component parts and systems as possible and restore the rest using original documentation from the Fuller prototyping process. It was installed indoors in the Henry Ford Museum in 2001 with a full exhibit.
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