13 jun. 2011

BUCKMINISTER FULLER.

Who Was Buckminster Fuller?

 can a man change the world????

 

Buckminster Fuller had one of the most fascinating and original minds of his century. Born in 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts, he was the latest--if not the last--of the New England Transcendentalists. Like the transcendentalists, Fuller rejected the established religious and political notions of the past and adhered to an idealistic system of thought based on the essential unity of the natural world and the use of experiment and intuition as a means of understanding it. But, departing from the pattern of his New England predecessors, he proposed that only an understanding of technology in the deepest sense would afford humans a proper guide to individual conduct and the eventual salvation of society. Industrial and scientific technology, despite their disruption of established habits and values, was not a blight on the landscape, but in fact for Fuller they have a redeeming humanitarian role.
Fuller rejected the conventional disciplines of the universities by ignoring them. In their place he imposed his own self-discipline and his own novel way of thinking in a deliberate attempt--as poets and artists do--to change his generation's perception of the world. To this end he created the term Spaceship Earth to convince all his fellow passengers that they would have to work together as the crew of a ship. His was an earnest, even compulsive, program to convince his listeners that humans had a function in universe. Humans have a destiny to serve as "local problem solvers" converting their experience to the highest advantage of others.
Fuller's favorite method of teaching--in the tradition of all great teachers since the Greek philosophers--was lecturing to large and youthful audiences. Though his penchant for talking for hours on end was notorious, he really regarded all communication as a two-way street, and he was remarkably sensitive to individual reactions--well beyond those in the front row. He tuned his always extemporaneous discourse to the rate he could see it being absorbed and digested. In the 1960s and 70s a generation seized on his prescription that there was no need to "earn a living"--often disregarding the other side of the coin: the need for individual initiative in "doing what needs to be done." In this spirit he advanced "design science" as the solution for worldwide social and ecological problems.
Fuller was an architect, though he never got a degree and in fact didn't even get a license until he was awarded one as an honor when he was in his late 60s. This did not prevent him from designing the geodesic dome: the only kind of building that can be set on the ground as a complete structure--and with no limiting dimension. The strength of the frame actually increases in ratio to its size, enclosing the largest volume of space with the least area of surface. This was his virtuoso invention, and he said it illustrated his strategy of "starting with wholes" rather than parts.
He was also a poet, philosopher, inventor and mathematician, as documented amply in many other web sites on the net.
America has been in the middle of a love-hate affair with technology--and Fuller is right in the middle of it. He introduced not only a unique rationale for technology, but an esthetic of it. Likewise his synergetic geometry bears for Fuller an imperative with an ethical content for humans to reappraise their relationship to the physical universe. Manifest together as design science, they offer the prospect of a kind of secular salvation.


 R. Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary born in Milton, Massachusetts on July 12, 1895. Dedicating his life to making the world work for all of humanity, Fuller operated as a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Fuller did not limit himself to one field but worked as a 'comprehensive anticipatory design scientist' to solve global problems surrounding housing, shelter, transportation, education, energy, ecological destruction, and poverty. Throughout the course of his life Fuller held 28 patents, authored 28 books, received 47 honorary degrees. And while his most well know artifact, the geodesic dome, has been produced over 300,000 times worldwide, Fuller's true impact on the world today can be found in his continued influence upon generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a more sustainable planet.

BUCKY´S BIG IDEAS

Buckminster Fuller spent his life working across multiple fields, such as architecture, design, geometry, engineering, science, cartography and education, in his pursuit to make the world work for 100% of humanity. Fuller insisted on resisting monikers of specialization to describe his work, preferring instead to describe his output as that of a 'comprehensive anticipatory design scientist ' - 'an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.' This approach resulted in the creation of numerous artifacts that cross boundaries and defy normal categorization. For the purposes of conveying Fuller's work to the uninitiated , we have organized an overview of the major themes and resulting project ideas that occupied Fuller's imaginative space:

 GEODESIC DOMES



R. Buckminster Fuller spent much of the early 20th Century looking for ways to improve human shelter by:
  • Applying modern technological know-how to shelter construction.
  • Making shelter more comfortable and efficient.
  • Making shelter more economically available to a greater number of people.
After acquiring some experience in the building industry and discovering the traditional practices and perceptions which severely limit changes and improvements in construction practices, Fuller carefully examined, and improved, interior structure equipment, including the toilet (similar to the ones now used in airplanes), the shower (which cleans more efficiently using less water), and the bathroom as a whole. He studied structure shells, and devised a number of alternatives, each less expensive, lighter, and stronger than traditional wood, brick, and stone buildings.
He could do this, in part, because newer building materials were available, and partly because his structures use the principle of tension instead of the usual compression. About these homes, 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." (4D Timelock)
In 1944, the United States suffered a serious housing shortage. Government officials knew that Fuller had developed a prototype single family dwelling which could be produced rapidly, using the same equipment which had previously built war-time airplanes. They could be "installed" anywhere, the way a telephone is installed, and with little additional difficulty. When one official flew to Wichita, Kansas to see this house, which Beech Aircraft and Fuller built, the man reportedly gasped, "My God! This is the house of the future!"
Soon, unsolicited checks poured in from people who wanted to purchase this new kind of house, but Fuller was never able to get it into full production. This was due to many obstacles such as only union contractors were able to hook the houses up to water, power and sewers in many cities. However, because the houses were already wired and had the plumbing installed by the aircraft company, many construction trade unions made it clear that they would not work on the houses. There were also in-house differences between Fuller and the stockholders. Fuller did not feel the house design was complete; there were problems he wanted to fix. But the stockholders wanted to move ahead. However, the main obstruction was obtaining the financing for the tooling costs, which were purposfully not included in the negotiations with Beech. No bank would finance the project with union problems and stockholder battles.
After the war, Fuller's efforts focused on the problem of how to build a shelter which is so lightweight, it can be delivered by air. Shelter should be mobile which would require great breakthroughs in the weight-reduction of the materials. Technology would have to follow nature's design as seen by the spider's web which can float in a hurricane because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. New shelter would have to be designed that incorporates these principles and that was Fuller's intent.

The Concepts Behind the Dome

One of the ways Buckminster Fuller ("Bucky") would describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid--in fact the triangle is twice as strong. This principle directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of "doing more with less." Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.
The sphere uses the "doing more with less" principle in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area thus saving on materials and cost. Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the sphere's diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times the volume.
The 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 built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.
More specifically, the dome is energy efficient for many reasons:
  • Its decreased surface area requires less building materials.
  • 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.
  • 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 ducts.
  • Extreme wind turbulence is lessened because the winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around the dome.
  • It acts like a type of giant down-pointing headlight reflector and reflects and concentrates interior heat. This helps prevent radiant heat loss.
The 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 from wasted energy. Domes have been designed by Bucky and others to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures as seen in the Polar regions.
Many dome manufacturers on the list in this section offer various designs in geodesic dome housing with little assembly time required. Some houses can be assembled in less than a day with others taking up to six months. Many also come in dome kits that you can build yourself or with the help of friends. The options are many. It all depends on how complex you want the design to be. Please feel free to contact them for more information.

The Public's First View of the Domes

R. Buckminster Fuller's first world wide acceptance by the architectural community occurred with the 1954 Triennale where his cardboard dome was displayed for the first time. The Milan Triennale was established to stage international exhibitions aimed to present the most innovative accomplishments in the fields of design, crafts, architecture and city planning.
The theme for 1954 was Life Between Artifact and Nature: Design and the Environmental Challenge which fit in perfectly with Bucky's work. Bucky had begun efforts towards the development of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science which he defined as, "the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth's finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet." The cardboard shelter that was part of his exhibit could be easily shipped and assembled with the directions printed right on the cardboard. The 42-foot paperboard Geodesic was installed in old Sforza garden in Milan and came away with the highest award, the Gran Premio.
Fuller's domes gained world wide attention upon his Italian premiere and by that time the U.S. military had already begun to explore the options of using domes in their military projects because they needed speedy but strong housing for soldiers overseas. With the interest of the military and coming away from the 1954 Triennale with the Gran Premio, domes began to gain in public appeal and exposure.

 SYNERGETICS


"Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced and began to formulate. Synergetics is multi-faceted: it involves geometric modeling, exploring inter-relationships in the facts of experience and the process of thinking. Synergetics endeavors to identify and understand the methods that Nature actually uses in coordinating Universe (both physically and metaphysically). Synergetics provides a method and a philosophy for problem-solving and design and therefore has applications in all areas of human endeavor."
  • 101.01 Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately.
  • 102.00 Synergy means behavior of integral, aggregate, whole systems unpredicted by behaviors of any of their components or subassemblies of their components taken separately from the whole.
  • 962.40 Synergetic geometry embraces all the qualities of experience, all aspects of being.
— R. Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics
"Synergetics, in the broadest terms, is the study of spatial complexity, and as such is an inherently comprehensive discipline. ... Experience with synergetics encourages a new way of approaching and solving problems. Its emphasis on visual and spatial phenomena combined with Fuller's holistic approach fosters the kind of lateral thinking which so often leads to creative breakthroughs."
— Amy Edmondson, A Fuller Explanation, 1987
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Synergetics Books Online:
Synergetics Articles Online:
"Synergetics." Exhibition Catalog, Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design. 1976.
"Tensegrity." Portfolio and Art News Annual, No.4, 1961.
A Practical Guide to Tensegrity Design (pdf) by Robert Burkhardt
E.J. Applewhite on Synergetics

                                               
DYMAXION
    At the heart of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion concept is the idea that rational action in a rational world demands the most efficient overall performance per unit of input. His Dymaxion structures, then are those that yield the greatest possible efficiency in terms of available technology. Here are a few examples:                                                         

1.HOUSE


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".


2.MAP



Also know as the "Dymaxion Map," the Fuller Projection Map is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean, without any visually obvious distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents. It was developed by R. Buckminster Fuller who "By 1954, after working on the map for several decades," finally realized a "satisfactory deck plan of the six and one half sextillion tons Spaceship Earth."
Traditional world maps reinforce the elements that separate humanity and fail to highlight the patterns and relationships emerging from the ever evolving and accelerating process of globalization. Instead of serving as "a precise means for seeing the world from the dynamic, cosmic and comprehensive viewpoint," the maps we use still cause humanity to "appear inherently disassociated, remote, self-interestedly preoccupied with the political concept of its got to be you or me; there is not enough for both."
All flat world map representations of the spherical globe contain some amount of distortion either in shape, area, distance or direction measurements. On the well-known Mercator world map, Greenland appears to be three times its relative globe size and Antarctica appears as a long thin white strip along the bottom edge of the map. Even the popular Robinson Projection, now used in many schools, still contains a large amount of area distortion with Greenland appearing 60 percent larger than its relative globe size.
Fuller's view was that given a way to visualize the whole planet with greater accuracy, we humans will be better equipped to address challenges as we face our common future aboard Spaceship Earth.


3.BATHROOM



Worried by the poor sanitation, inefficiency, and high cost of bathrooms, Bucky came up with a solution in 1936.
The four, stamped sheet metal or molded plastic sections are each light enough to be carried by two workers. They'll fit up tight staircases and through narrow doors, allowing retrofitting in existing structures. All the appliances, pipes, and wires are built-in, limiting on-site construction to mere hook-up.
With the sections bolted together, the interior has no germ-harboring nooks, crannies, grout cracks or anything that can rot. Large-radius corners make germicidal swabbing easy and complete. Downdraft ventilation draws fumes and steam to the undersink vent. Both sink and (deep) bath-shower are arranged to ease the care of children and seniors. The mirror doesn't steam up, the sink doesn't splatter, and the toilet paper stays dry.
Dymaxion Bathrooms are to be equipped with "Fog Gun" hot water vapor showers that use only a cup of water to clean hygienically without soap. Remarking that "Nature had designed humans to separate urine and excrement. Both are valuable chemistry, and should be collected for further use," Bucky specified a waterless "Packaging Toilet" that deftly shrink-wrapped the stuff for pickup for later composting. (Ordinary toilets use approximately 2000 gallons of pure drinking water per year to flush - and waste - one human's "exhaust" that, if dried out, would scarcely fill two 5-gallon pails.)


4.CAR


The Dymaxion car was designed by Buckminster Fuller in the early 1930s. The car featured highly innovative, and ultimately influential, features compared with the common car of the day including: a three wheel design with rear wheel steering and front wheel drive, a longer body (20 feet), and a highly aerodynamic design. Success of the design was realized in its performance efficiencies: the car could transport up to 11 passengers, reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, and ran 30 miles per gallon.


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