Design: The Dymaxion American

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infinitely lighter, built with fewer materials, and therefore far more cheaply. If mass-produced, such houses could solve the world's shelter problems.

His first plan was pretty far out: apartment houses built of the aircraft industry's lightweight alloys, each floor hung from a huge central mast. A dirigible would carry the whole building to the selected site, then drop a bomb, plant the building's mast into the resulting crater, and buzz off—leaving a ground crew to fill in the hole around the mast with concrete.

Fuller's next "anticipatory" design was more practical. It was for a single-family house that carried Corbusier's "machine-for-living" concept farther than the Continental avant-garde had dared to think it. The rooms were hung from a central mast. This left free the ground, which could be landscaped to taste. The outer wall was of continuous glass, which enclosed both rooms and garden like a conservatory, with air conditioning from the central mast. The house was supposed to be independent of its location, and therefore easily movable if the family decided to change cities; the whole thing could be picked up and replanted anywhere.

To avoid being tied down by sewage pipes, the bathroom was as nearly waterless as a bathroom can be; a ten-minute "bath" was supplied from a quart of water by means of a Fuller invention called a "fog gun," and provision was made for even this water to be recollected from the air. The toilets emptied into a waterless device which mechanically packaged and stored the wastes for eventual pickup by a processing plant. Dusting was automatic, by a combination of compressed air and vacuum. Mass-produced, the house was planned to sell at about $1,500 on a 1928 level—approximately $4,800 today.

This "4D House," as he called it, was the launching of the new Bucky Fuller. Though it only existed as a scale model (in which he included a tiny nude doll lying on a bed for verisimilitude and headline-catching purposes), and though it called for alloys, plastics, photoelectric cells and the like, which did not then exist, newspapers wrote it up, and the Marshall Field department store contracted for its display, to go with some daringly "modern" furniture just imported from France. Fuller's 4D (for Fourth Dimension) title for the house seemed drab to the promotion-minded store executives; they assigned a couple of high-powered word-sculptors to work out a new word for it. After two days of hectic brainstorming, the result was "dymaxion"—vaguely compounded of "dynamic," "maximum" and "ion." Marshall Field copyrighted it in Fuller's name, and in the years to come Bucky turned it into what amounted to a personal trademark. Today he explains that it means the "maximum gain of advantage from the minimal energy input."

Messiah of Ideas. After the Marshall Field show, Fuller moved himself, his model house, and his wife and daughter back East. For about a year they stayed with Anne's family at Hewlett, L.I., and the Hewlett tribe still talks about the alarums and excursions that centered around Bucky and his one-man-band personality. He might insist that the occasion called for an operetta, and no one would be allowed to leave until he had composed the words and music and performed it

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