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Intelligent Person's Guide to the Dymaxion House

Part 1 Dissertation 2007
Marcin Kurdziel
University of Plymouth | UK
The purpose of the dissertation is to analyse the Dymaxion House, a project which was perhaps the most significant in the career of Richard Buckminster Fuller, and the one which is often omitted from the history of modern architecture. First, it gives a brief insight into Buckminster Fuller and his dymaxion world. Secondly, it expands on the route to Dymaxion House which is described in detail. Lastly, it develops a critique of the Dymaxion House by comparing it to other houses, visionary designs of the time, and by setting the project against the social context of America in the late 1920s.

Overall, it has been illustrated that Fuller’s Dymaxion House – perhaps the most important pre-fabricated house design of the 20th century – can be distinguished by some genuinely innovative features as well as the ones which appeared rather surreal. Fuller, like many others of the time, was clearly influenced by Fordism and Taylorism. Although his Dymaxion House failed as a luxury dwelling of the future, some rightly see it as the forerunner of light, mobile and demountable architecture. Many aspects of Fuller’s philosophy from the time continue to influence architects and students of architecture worldwide. Visionary and conventional, practical and impractical, the Dymaxion House, though it was never built, ‘still surprises with its audacity of thinking’.

Marcin Kurdziel

The Dissertation is included in Year 3 of the BA(Hons) Architecture (Part 1) Programme. Students discuss a subject of their own choice as the culmination of the history and theory module. Marcin was fascinated by Buckminster Fuller and identified the Dymaxion House as important to his oeuvre. The seminar group posed the question: what was the Dymaxion House? Despite the many superficial references to it in text books, its form and origins remained obscure. Marcin unpicked these references and revealed a complex history, at once visionary and conventional, much influenced by the economics and social context of contemporary America.

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