R. Buckminster Fullerís first world wide acceptance by the architectural community occurred with the 1954 Triennale where his cardboard dome was displayed for the first time. The Milan (Italy) Triennale was established to stage international exhibitions aimed to present the most innovative accomplishments in the fields of design, crafts, architecture and city planning.
The theme for 1954 was Life Between Artifact and Nature: Design and the Environmental Challenge which fit in perfectly with Buckyís work. Bucky had begun efforts towards the development of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science which he defined as, "the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earthís finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet." The cardboard shelter that was part of his exhibit could be easily shipped and assembled with the directions printed right on the cardboard. The 42-foot paperboard Spherical Geodesic Structure was installed in old Sforza garden in Milan and came away with the highest award, the Gran Premio.
Fullerís domes gained world wide attention upon his Italian premiere and by that time the U.S. military had already begun to explore the options of using domes in their military projects because they needed speedy but strong housing for soldiers overseas. With the interest of the military and coming away from the 1954 Triennale with the Gran Premio, domes began to gain in public appeal and exposure.
In 1927 Buckminster Fuller began a 50-year experiment using himself as the guinea pig. He proposed to discover what he, an average man with neither money, nor corporate or governmental backing could do on behalf of all humanity. Most broadly (and most ambitiously), he determined to find the principles which govern the Universe and apply them to the basic and persistent problems that plague humankind (e.g. shelter).
A major barrier to the success of this experiment is societyís persistent assumption that needed human resources are scarce. Warfare is societyís most destructive way to defend a groupís existing resources and acquire others. Fuller sought to shift humanityís focus away from applying its best resources to creating and refining weaponry. He sought to deploy those resources to "livingry," i.e. to the progressive betterment of all human beings through to human problems. His goal was to bring on this shift by changing the environment, not people.
With his wide experience in science, mathematics and industry (especially the building industry), Fuller saw that technology was bringing radical changes to human society and would bring many more. If and when it is fully and properly applied, Fuller was convinced it could raise 100% of humanity to a level of previously unimagined success.
Advanced technology allows people and goods to move freely around the world, increasing mobility and decreasing the traditional rootedness of human cultures. Fuller wanted to use the techniques of mass production in creating efficient affordable shelter for the millions of people who needed it around the world.
One of the ways Buckminster Fuller ("Bucky") would describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid, in fact the triangle is twice as strong. This principle directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of "doing more with less." Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.
The sphere uses the "doing more with less" principle in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area thus saving on materials and cost. Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the sphereís diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times the volume.
The spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling to occur naturally. Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.
More specifically, the dome is energy efficient for many reasons:
- its decreased surface area requires less building materials.
- exposure to cold in the winter and heat in the summer is decreased because, being spherical, there is the least surface area per unity of volume per structure.
- the concave interior creates a natural airflow that allows the hot or cool air to flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air ducts.
- extreme wind turbulence is lessened because the winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around the dome.
- it acts like a type of giant down-pointing headlight reflector and reflects and concentrates interior heat. This helps prevent radiant heat loss.
The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes according to the government studies. This is quite an improvement and helps save the environment from wasted energy. Domes have been designed by Bucky and others to withstand high winds and extreme temperatures as seen in the Polar regions.
Many dome manufacturers offer various designs in geodesic dome housing with little assembly time required. Some houses can be assembled in less than a day with others taking up to six months. Many also come in dome kits that you can build yourself or with the help of friends. The options are many. It all depends on how complex you want the design to be. Please feel free to contact: Spherical Geodesic Structures .com for more information.
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