Better Living Through Buckminster Fuller’s Utopian Designs: Revisit the Dymaxion Car, House, and Map

To those who haven’t delved deeply into his con­sid­er­able body of work, twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry archi­tect, inven­tor, and futur­ist Buck­min­ster Fuller seems to have left behind a sin­gle last­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the built envi­ron­ment: the geo­des­ic dome. This I remem­ber when­ev­er I pass by the Cin­era­ma Dome on Sun­set Boule­vard, a famous movie the­ater built accord­ing to Fuller’s sphere-inten­sive archi­tec­tur­al prin­ci­ples. But the fact that you don’t see many oth­er geo­des­ic domes these days — you nev­er did see many, I sup­pose — belies the abun­dant fruits of Fuller’s imag­i­na­tion and know-how. Vig­i­lant­ly mind­ful of human­i­ty’s poten­tial for a bet­ter tomor­row, he also designed a suite of seem­ing­ly Utopi­an, sur­pris­ing­ly inno­v­a­tive, and ulti­mate­ly unpop­u­lar tools for bet­ter liv­ing. He brand­ed them with a port­man­teau of dynam­icmax­i­mum, and ten­sion: “Dymax­ion” came to stand, or at least Fuller seemed to want it to stand, for unceas­ing ded­i­ca­tion to improv­ing our pat­terns of life.

To that end, he con­ceived of the Dymax­ion House, or “Dymax­ion Dwelling Machine,” a cheap­ly mass-pro­ducible, nat­u­ral­ly heat­ed and cooled, near­ly main­te­nance-free, eas­i­ly mod­i­fi­able, and, of course, round hous­ing solu­tion. The sat­is­fied res­i­dent of Fuller’s future would dri­ve to and from his Dymax­ion House, along with ten pas­sen­gers, in his aero­dy­nam­ic Dymax­ion Car, capa­ble of reach­ing 90 miles per hour at 30 miles to the gal­lon. And no mat­ter where he drove, he could find his way with the Dymax­ion Map (also known as the “Fuller Pro­jec­tion map”), the only flat whole-earth map with no visu­al dis­tor­tions in its rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what Fuller called Space­ship Earth. You can see the Dymax­ion Car in action, and hear Fuller talk about its devel­op­ment, in the video just above. A 1946 news­reel tour of the Dymax­ion House appears at the top of the post. If you now find your­self eager to live accord­ing to Buck­min­ster Fuller’s ideals, try keep­ing his ultra-detailed form of a diary, the Dymax­ion Chronofile, or tak­ing his peri­od­ic 30 minute Dymax­ion naps. I know I’d like to get a Dymax­ion bath­room installed.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Every­thing I Know: 42 Hours of Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Vision­ary Lec­tures Free Online (1975)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (4)
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  • David Meek says:

    Just FYI: the Dymax­ion House can be found ful­ly restored at The Hen­ry Ford, the muse­um in Dear­born, MI — which is worth a vis­it even if you’re not going to see Buck­y’s work. Here’s their page on the Dymax­ion House:

  • Smithe760 says:

    Only wan­na tell that this is very use­ful , Thanks for tak­ing your time to write this. kdg­caa­keee­bgcfkg

  • Charles Raymond says:

    Heard Buck­min­ster Fuller speak at the 1974 Men­sa annu­al gath­er­ing held in the old Play­boy Club in Chica­go. A fas­ci­nat­ing man. Also have read some of his work back in the 1970s. His geo­des­ic dome is a stan­dard fea­ture

  • Rob Rand says:

    Who would I talk to to access the videos shown here with just Bucky talk­ing and none of that music which obscures much of what he is say­ing.

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