I read Buckminster Fuller’s “Critical Path” early in my studies and was always struck by how his formative education and life circumstances informed his work over the years. Failure confronted Fuller after he left the Navy, heading him on his “lifelong experiment” with an aim of finding out “what, if anything,” one individual could do “on behalf of all humanity.”
As early as 1927 “when a human first flew alone across an ocean in one day” R. Buckminster Fuller realized a globally connected world with limited resources would need radically new design solutions. The same year, one of his first publication’s cover, “4-D,” proclaimed “Two billion new homes will be required by humanity in the next eighty years,” Fuller commenced work on a series of factory built housing projects he called the Dymaxion Exploration. His “4-D Time Lock” essay compared automobile to traditional construction industries, proposing a “new era home” could be assembled in one day as portable commodity, similar to a car.
This hand-colored print of “The Ten Deck House” describes Fuller’s early concept for a mass-produced modular ten-story aluminum structure. Rendered on a mimeographed print, it was not uncharacteristic for Fuller to replicate his drawn ideas using this economical printing process. Influenced by time in the U.S. Navy and aeronautics the entire building, light weight in construction, would be transported by zeppelin and lowered into a crater first created with a small explosion. Though never realized, it was designed around a central mast, each deck is supported by a cable with four levels for living, a separate floor for servants, along with a nursery, library, gym, pool, power station and sky promenade. The suspended building frees the ground level for a car or airplane.
Not diminished by his losses this visionary designer’s work spanned the fields of architecture, science and technology. His experimentation with pre-fabricated structures continued, including the 4D House re-branded the Dymaxion House, a Dymaxion Deployment Unit and the Geodesic Dome.