Page C1.1 . 17 June 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Dymaxion Redux

by Federico Neder

Visiting Fuller's house today requires a $14 ticket. In a landscape packed with planes, trains, and vehicles of all kinds, the sparkling body of the Dymaxion House makes a striking appearance.

A tour guide leads tourists to the doorstep of this enigmatic object. He is dressed in a 1940s suit and plays the part of a real estate agent. The visit begins, and the salesman-like character describes the features of this new house and the automated conveniences proposed by its inventor, a certain Richard Buckminster Fuller.

We encircle its reflective facade, climb two or three steps, and enter by the front door; then we cross the living room, bedrooms, and kitchen, peeking into the bathrooms. Everything is brand new. Freshly oiled machinery clicks into action: pivoting cupboards, electric shelves, variable-colored lights that illuminate the white ceiling in different hues. Furniture, curtains, dishes, knick-knacks, and clothes — everything is in its place. The only thing missing is the family that inhabits the dwelling — or that mysteriously abandoned it in 1946.

The visitor may scrutinize every corner of the house of the future, whose intimacies are exposed yet physically protected behind rope barriers. The house is real. The frame through which it is presented and the objects contained within it are not. This is not a new photo shoot or an outdated ad campaign. Rather, we find ourselves in a museum where the house has become an object of contemplation.

Ironically, the futuristic dwelling is the result of a series of ideas developed over 80 years ago, and the walls themselves are a half-century old. How then, we may ask, did the house find its way here?   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Fuller Houses: R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Dwellings and Other Domestic Adventures by Federico Neder, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, Lars Müller Publishers. Translated from the French by Elsa Lam.



ArchWeek Image

Fuller's Wichita Dymaxion House was reconstructed in Rose Hill, Kansas, as seen here circa 1950.
Photo: Courtesy the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller Extra Large Image

ArchWeek Image

Fuller's Dymaxion Car on display outside G.F. Keck's Crystal House in Chicago, 1934.
Photo: Courtesy the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller Extra Large Image


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