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R. Buckminster Fuller author, scientist, artist, inventor,
architect, engineer, philosopher, mathematician, metaphysician,
cartographer, visionary, social historian, creator of dymaxion
engineering, geodesics, synergy, synergetics, World Game &
world resources inventory, arguably the first modern futurist.
Shelter! Refugees and Catastrophe Victims
need Shelter Quick - with little Labor
In a weakened state, disaster
victims can't wait for days to have shelter and safety. Emergency
Shelters need to be modular, compact, lightweight, wind-resistant
and easy to install or relocate if necessary.
Temporary Shelter and habitation was one of the earliest problems
addressed and solved as part of Buckminster Fuller's comprehensive
Anticipatory Design-Science strategy. The approach was two-part.
to redesign & improve the standard of structural stability
& performance in human dwellings, making them safer
and less likely to collapse or sustain damage in a natural or
to design (and mass produce) temporary structures that used
the minimum amount of materials to get the greatest level of
effectiveness, and were simple enough to be erected
by one or two people with a few simple tools.
Both tasks were accomplished by employing Dynamic Tension
Structures Instead of compression structures -
which are held in place by the force of gravity pulling down
on the heavy construction materials.
Fuller writes in 1928,
"These new homes are structured after the natural system
of humans and trees with a central stem or backbone, from which
all else is independently hung, utilizing gravity instead of
opposing it. This results in a construction similar to an airplane
- light, taut, and profoundly strong." (R.B.
Fuller, 4D Timelock)
spherical Geodesic Dome uses the "doing more with less"
principle by enclosing the greatest volume of interior space
with the minimum amount of surface area, saving on energy, labor,
materials and cost.
Fuller introduced the idea that when the sphere’s diameter
is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce
eight times the volume.
spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior
atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed
to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling
to occur naturally. Geodesic shelters have been installed in
many extreme climates and temperatures and they have proven
to be the most safe, effective & efficient shelter possible.
You may remember the "Biosphere" space-living simulations
carried out in the 1980s were done in a giant space-frame and
It's nearly certain that the first interplanetary human dwellings
will be entirely geodesic in design.
The dome is energy efficient for a number of reasons:
1. its decreased surface area
requires less building materials .
2. exposure to cold in the winter and heat
in the summer is decreased because,
being spherical, there is the least surface area per unity of
volume per structure.
3. the concave interior creates a natural airflow
that allows the hot or cool air to
flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air
4. extreme wind turbulence is lessened because
the winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around
5. it acts like a type of giant down-pointing
headlight reflector that reflects and concentrates interior
This helps prevent radiant heat loss and maintain temperature
net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than
normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co. This
is quite an improvement and helps save the environment by conserving
energy and resources. Domes have been designed by Bucky and
others to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures as seen
in the Polar regions.
Many dome manufacturers offer various designs in geodesic dome
housing with astonishingly little assembly time required. Some
3-story dome houses can be assembled in less than a 3 days
with others taking up to 3 months.
What is the strongest structure possible?
Answer: The Oct-tet Truss created by Buckminster
Fuller, patented on May 30, 1961 #2,986,241. Sometimes called
the 'Space-Frame' because of it's use in the NASA space program
- due to it's economy, strength and ease of assembly.
Question: Why is it so indestructible?
Square corners (most buildings) are not structural,
they tend to collapse sideways & flatten when force is applied.
To stabilize a square you have to "x" it -
The triangle is the most basic self-reinforcing structure
- each side holds the others in place. The Oct-Tet Truss is
made entirely of triangles arranged in the most economical relationship
possible, an alternating array of tetrahedral and octahedra.
This structure is lightweight and uses the minimum amount of
materials to get the most load-bearing strength. It's practically
indestructible and should be incorporated at a number of scales
into the design of modern shelters and homes, especially those
in disaster prone areas.
For example If Space Frame structuring was incorporated
into the anchoring and walls of trailer-park homes - you'd have
no more of them blowing away all the time, over and over in
tornados across the american southeast.
Here for Stanford University Archives
of Bucky's Original Geometrical Models in 3-D
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