R. Buckminster Fuller, Architect
On display within the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn MI
Visited September 2, 2013
The Dymaxion House (from the words Dynamic Maximum Tension) uses a central mast set on a single foundation in the middle of the structure. The floor and wall system then is suspended from this mast with tension cables. This was to be Buckminster Fuller’s mass-produced affordable solution for the housing shortage after the war. What was brilliant about his solution was that the Dymaxion House uses aircraft like parts and assembly techniques. This was to keep the aircraft factories open and the skilled workers employed after most military aircraft production ended after the war.
Two prototypes of the “Dymaxion Dwelling Machine” were manufactured in Wichita, Kansas by the Beech Aircraft company before Fuller Houses Inc. went out of business due to disagreements among the associates (or so the story goes). Both prototypes (or the parts from them) were purchased by a family in Kansas, and were assembled as one Dymaxion structure as an addition to their existing house.
The family donated the Dymaxion House to Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, where the parts were cataloged, cleaned, and restored. The house was ultimately assembled as a featured display in the Museum. Portions of the structure are visible in cut-a-way sections of the display so the unique structural design are visible. Visitors can walk through the house and see first hand the innovative bathroom, closet, kitchen and ventilation systems employed.
I wish it could have been assembled outdoors in the Village on a grass lawn with the original porches. Although I understand that is has to be in the museum so that it can be preserved, the ramps and fencing for the visitors que to enter and exit the display hug the building closely. You do not get the architect’s vision of this spaceage looking house hovering over the lawn supported only by the center mast.