07/09/2009

dymaxion house



The Dymaxion House was completed during 1929 after two years of development, and later redesigned during 1945. The Dymaxion house represented the first conscious effort to build an autonomous prefabricated building during the 20th century.

The final design of the Dymaxion house used a central vertical stainless-steel strut on a single foundation. Structures similar to the spokes of a bicycle-wheel hung down from this supporting the roof, while beams radiated out supported the floor. Wedge-shaped fans of sheet aluminum formed the roof, ceiling and floor. Each structure was assembled at ground level and then winched up the strut. It was a prototype proposed to use a packaging toilet, water storage and a convection-driven ventilator built into the roof. The Dymaxion house was intended to reduce water use by a grey water system, a packaging commode, efficient degreasers and a roof that was designed to wick water inside and drip into the rain-gutter and then to the cistern.

The prefabricated bathroom consisted of two connected stamped copper bubbles, built as four nesting pieces. Each bubble had a drain. No area had a radius of less than four inches (10 cm), to aid cleaning. The commode, shower, bathtub and sink were molded into the structural shell in one piece. One bubble contained a step-up ergonomic bathtub and shower, high enough to wash children without stooping, and the other bubble was the bathroom proper with commode and sink. The ventilation for the bathroom was a large silent fan under the main sink, which kept odors away from people's noses. To prevent fogging, the mirror faced into the medicine chest, which was ventilated by the fan.



Criticisms of the Dymaxion Houses include its supposed inflexible design which disregarded local site and architectural idiom, and its use of energy-intensive materials such as aluminum rather than low-energy materials such as adobe or tile. Fuller chose aluminum for its light weight, great strength, and long-term durability, arguably factors that compensate for the high initial production and embodied energetic costs. Aluminum was also a logical choice if the homes were to be mass produced in aircraft factories, which, since WWII had ended, had substantial excess capacity. 

Criticisms aside, Fuller's 80 year old design addressed many of the issues that architects are attempting to tackle today in pursuit of sustainability: prefabrication, energy efficient ventilation, grey water reuse and rainwater harvesting. 

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (1895 – 1983) was an American architect, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. Fuller published more than thirty books, coined the phrase "synergy", and also developed numerous inventions,  the best known of which are the geodesic dome, the Dymaxion house and the Dymaxion car.

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