Conceived and designed in the late 1920’s but not actually built until 1945, the Dymaxion House was Fuller’s solution to the need for a mass-produced, affordable, easily transportable and environmentally efficient house. The word “Dymaxion” was coined by combining parts of three of Bucky’s favorite words: DY (dynamic), MAX (maximum), and ION (tension). The house used tension suspension from a central column or mast, sold for the price of a Cadillac, and could be shipped worldwide in its own metal tube. Toward the end of WW II, Fuller attempted to create a new industry for mass-producing Dymaxion Houses.
Bucky designed a home that was heated and cooled by natural means, that made its own power, was earthquake and storm-proof, and made of permanent, engineered materials that required no periodic painting, reroofing, or other maintenance. You could easily change the floor plan as required – squeezing the bedrooms to make the living room bigger for a party, for instance.
Downdraft ventilation drew dust to the baseboards and through filters, greatly reducing the need to vacuum and dust. O-Volving Shelves required no bending; rotating closets brought the clothes to you. The Dymaxion House was to be leased, or priced like an automobile, to be paid off in five years. All this would be possible now if houses were engineered, mass-produced, and sold like cars. $40,000.00 sounds about right.
In 1946, Bucky actually built a later design of the Dymaxion House (also known as the Wichita House). I had the honor to lead a bunch of volunteers that took it apart in 1992. It was mostly intact despite being abandoned (except for the incumbent herd of insolent, astoundingly filthy raccoons) for several decades. The 747 First-Class ambiance was faded and smelly, but you could still sense the elegance of a living room with a 33-foot window.
The Dymaxion’s round shape minimized heat loss and the amount of materials needed, while bestowing the strength to successfully fend off a 1964 tornado that missed by only a few hundred yards. And the Dymaxion only weighs about 3000 pounds versus the 150 tons of an average home!
Read more about all of Fuller’s Dymaxion House designs in Jay Baldwin’s “BuckyWorks”. (See more about Jay Baldwin and Fuller here.)