Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster FullerInteresting people: Buckminster Fuller

Born on the 12th of July, 1895, Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American designer, visionary, poet, architect, inventor and an author. He was Mensas’ second President.  In his entire life, Fuller concentrated on one single question, which was based on the survival of human beings on the planet earth. By considering himself to be an average person devoid of any special academic degree or special monetary means, Fuller decided to dedicate his life finding answers to his basic question. In addition, he also tried to find out as to what can be done by an individual like him for the improvement of average human condition which large governments, private enterprises or organizations could not do.

In pursuit of his question which he considered to be his lifelong experiment, Buckminster published more than 30 books and introduced terms such as “synergetics”, “ephemeralization” and “spaceship earth”. Additionally, Buckminster also worked for the development of many inventions, especially in the field of architecture and design of which the geodesic dome is the best known.

Academic Life:

Born to Caroline Wolcott Andrews and Richard Buckminster Fuller in Massachusetts, he went to the Froebelian Kindergarten. He spent most of his youthful days off the coast of Maine on Bear Island and had a natural propensity for making things and designing. Very often, Buckminster used to prepare things from the materials that he used to bring from the forests and used to make his own tools.

Later on, Fuller managed to earn the machinist’s certification and gained knowledge about the usage of stretch press, other equipments and tools and the press brake in the sheet metal trade. Subsequently, he was sent to the Milton Academy in Massachusetts. Thereafter, he started studying at Harvard and was twice expelled from the university. The first was for entertaining a complete dance troupe and the second for his lack of interest and irresponsibility. After many years, Buckminster Fuller managed to get a Sc.D. from Bates College.

Career and Personal Life:

In between his Harvard academic sessions, Fuller used to work as a mechanic in Canada in a textile mill and then, as a meat packing laborer. In the year 1917, Fuller married Anne Hewlett and also served as a crash-boat commander, an editor of a publication and as a shipboard radio operator.

After dismissal, Fuller again worked in meat packing industry where he acquired experience in management. In the earlier part of the 1920’s, Fuller collaborated with his father-in-law for constructing Stockade Building System for coming up with weatherproof, fireproof housing and light weight system. However, the company failed to sustain itself for long.

At the age of 32, jobless and bankrupt, Fuller stayed at the inferior housing apartment in the region of Chicago in Illinois. In addition, he lost his daughter to complications arising from spinal meningitis and polio.

He considered himself to be responsible and this led him to drink and on the verge of committing suicide. At the eleventh hour, he thought of embarking on an experiment as to what an individual can do, in order to benefit humanity and change the world.

Contributions of Buckminster Fuller:

Fuller was especially reputed for his geodetic domes which can be observed as a part of civic buildings, exhibition attractions and military radar stations. Their construction is dependent on the extension of the basic principles of constructing simple structures such as octahedron, the close sphere package and tetrahedron. When built in such manner, they are extremely stable and lightweight. He won a patent for his geodesic domes in 1954 which was a part of his effort in the exploration of constructing principles of nature for finding design solutions.

Previous to his world famous “geodesic dome” design, Fuller built and designed prototypes which he had hoped to be an aerodynamic and a safer Dymaxion car. In order to that effect, he tried out with a fundamentally new approach. Right from 1932, Fuller worked with professional colleagues over a period spanning three years. Based on the aircraft designs, the three prototype cars were all completely different from those in the market. The first point of difference was that each of these vehicles included three and not four vehicles. It included two wheels in the front and one at the rear for steering purposes. Even the engine was situated at the rear part of the vehicle.

Both the body and the chassis were original designs. The tear-shaped and aerodynamic body was large enough for seating as much as 11 people. Somehow, it resembled the melding of a wingless light aircraft and a 1950s vintage Volkswagen van. In each of its three trial incarnations, the car was essentially a mini-bus.
Other Significant Contributions:

Also included in Fuller’s ideas was the Dymaxion map of alternative projection. It was designed for displaying the continents of the earth with minimum possible aberration while printed or projected on a flat surface.

Although the low-cost and energy-efficient Dymaxion house managed to gather much interest, it never went into production. The term “Dymaxion” is used for signifying a light tensegrity and a radically strong structure”.

His Dymaxion House is on display in Dearborn, Michigan at “The Henry Ford”. Developed and designed in the mid 1940’s, it is a round structure and has a shape of a flattened bell of jellyfish. In addition, it has numerous innovative features which comprises of a fine mist shower reducing water consumption and a revolving dresser drawers.

Philosophical Views:

Fuller was an early ecological activist. He was well aware of the earth’s finite resources and hence, advertised a principle of “ephemeralization” which essentially meant doing more with less. In addition, Fuller also inaugurated the term “synergetics” which is the language used for conveying experiences with the help of geometric concepts long before the term gained popularity.

Also, Fuller was the first in disseminating “systematic worldview” and researched the principles of material efficiency and energy in the fields of engineering, architecture and design. He stated that the cost of petroleum from the point of view of replacement came to more than a million dollars. Hence, he was of the view that using petroleum as a transportation fuel would result in a huge net loss, when compared to the actual earnings of those people and the net profits of the firm who travel using gasoline.

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