Architectural directions of Buckminster Fuller

During the conference in Krakow in September we will discuss some topics which were important for Fuller and in which Fuller's achievements may be a pretext or challenge for further exploration and study.

1. Searching for sustainable industrial solutions and a new and independent integrity in house building techniques

We invite you to write papers discussing directions and solutions of industrial house building techniques. Using our contemporary knowledge how can we respond to Fuller's postulate to build homes that will be both cheap and create a good environment for human development? Let's recall that during his work on the 4D House, in June 1928, R. B. Fuller wrote his father-in-law, J.M. Hewlett: “We observe the even greater capital purchasing ability of the increasingly available (both as to time and space) and more attractive fresh fruits and vegetables, as against the diminishing capital equivalent of meat purchased, and realize that with the atmospheric control of the 4D House the necessity and desire for meat will vanish”. (Chronofile, vol. 34/1928). “A home, like a person, must as completely as possible be independent and self-supporting, have its own character, dignity, and beauty or harmony.” “Lightful Houses”, manuscript (1928) 22

2. Searching for shapes of shelter covers with the smallest area and weight

Was the erection of the domes a fashion that passed away after Fuller's death, or whether we have before us a time of intense search for solutions that Fuller used to say “Doing the Most with the Least”. Let’s recall that Fuller advocated ephemeralisation, which means greater effect with decreasing expenditure of materials, constant improvements in the ratio of input to output. Such were his geodesic domes. ‘If industry was to take it on, there are things that we could do in geodesic domes that are spectacular. I haven’t let much of it much of it be visible except that anyone looking at the geodesic dome in Montreal saw a very beautiful piece of mechanics. It did all kinds of thing to your intuition. You saw there were curtains that could articulate by photosynthesis and so forth, could let light in and out. It is possible, as our own human skin, all of our pores, all of the cells organize, so that some are photo- sensitive and some are sound- sensitive, and they’re heat- sensitive, and it would be perfectly possible to create a geodesic of a very high frequency where each of these pores could be circular tangencies of the same size. One could be a screen, others breathing air, others letting light in, and the whole thing could articulate just as a sensitively as a human being’s skin. And I really think geodesic domes such as that will be developed.’ in: Domebook 2 (1971), 91 (p. 428).

3. Searching for support cable systems, whether on the scale of factories, manufacturing equipment or room furnishings

In buildings designed by Fuller, their lightness, tendency to occupy as little space as possible, as well as ease of assembly and disassembly (at some point, supplying the whole building by airship) is striking. The main secret of this lightness lies in the use of tensile forces, mainly carried by the tendons. The tensile system allowed Fuller to design almost invisible constructions. We invite you to write papers discussing directions of construction using systems of tie rods and other solutions proposed by Fuller, including tensegrity.

4. Searching for autonomous construction solutions (buildings with their own production of electricity, utilization of sewage and waste, etc.)

Are we condemned to mass media delivery systems, or can we create solutions that correspond to Fuller's dreams to make buildings as self-sufficient as possible? In a previously presented project of a popular house intended for mass production from 1929, a waste tank was to be located next to the foundation, where it was to be not only recycled, but gas and electricity were to be produced. In addition to Fuller, he planned fuel tanks, power and heat generating units, air pumps, an air filter, as well as water supply from an artesian well. He assumed that thanks to the almost perfect insulation provided for in his project, the house can be economically heated thanks to the heat generated in the boiler room and the thermal use of lighting. The air circulation was to be forced mechanically, with cleaning of dust and gas impurities. Use of autonomous buildings was to prevent the creation of monstrously large urban organisms and huge power plants.

5. Searching for new building locations - including on the surface of the seas and in the atmosphere

Please, provide your opinions on the new possibilities of building location, so that urban sprawl does not spill over the entire surface of the planet. Fuller designed towns floating on the surface of the seas, moored to the coasts and moved according to the needs or climate change. According to Fuller, the cities could also levitate in the Earth's atmosphere, thanks to the simple use of the differences in the temperature of air inside and outside the huge coatings stretched on fully spherical surveying constructions. The larger the geodesic dome, the lighter its structure is compared to the air contained in it. “Cloud Nine could be anchored to mountaintops, with inhabitants travelling to the ground or other Cloud Nines by photovoltaically powered aircraft based on the work of Dr. Paul MacReady. The sky cities could also be permitted to drift at a preferred altitude, enabling their populations to see the world, or even to migrate like birds.” by J. Baldwin, Buckyworks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today, New York 1996, s. 190.

6. Searching for new building materials and solutions acting analogously to skin tissues

When Fuller presented his architectural concepts, he used to refer to materials and devices that had not yet been created, or indicated new uses for the latest inventions. “From the inside there will be uninterrupted contact with the exterior world. The sun and moon will shine in the landscape, and the sky will be completely visible, but the unpleasant effect of climate, heat, dust, bugs, glare, etc. will be modulated by the skin to provide Garden of Eden interior.” in: J. Allwood: The Great Exhibitions, London 1977, 169 (p. 434) For Fuller, the great task of people was to create on a local scale an environment that opposes the phenomenon of entropy, consisting in the local in increase of disorder and loss of energy. Man can supply energy from outside, because it is available in an unlimited amount on a cosmic scale. He can also create anti-entropic technical solutions that make up, as he called it, metabolic regeneration. Please, provide your opinions on the possibilities of creating new technologies that would provide conditions analogous to those obtained by living organisms.