DYMAXION DWELLING MACHINE


The Dymaxion Dwelling Machine was a greatly improved version of the 4-D House. This building was circular instead of hexagonal in plan, with a circumference of 118ft. Like the first house, it was designed to be suspended from a central mast by steel cables, the ends of which were anchored in the ground. Each of the 12 anchors could resist an upward pull of 12 000 lb.

The wall components were die-stamped sheets of aluminium, above which were all-round plexi-glass windows, reaching up to the domed roof. The plywood-on-aluminium floor was fixed together without the aid of nails, screws or cement. The ribs joining the roof sections guided rainwater into gutters for storage, and an analogous system inside collected any water formed by condensation. All the metals used in construction were non-oxidizing, so no painting or maintenance was necessary.

There were 2 bedrooms, 2 Dymaxion Bathrooms, a kitchen, an entry hall, and a living room. To alter the feel of the house, coloured light could be projected onto the fibre-glass/neoprene ceiling.

Among the many novel features to enhance the use of storage space were what Fuller called O-volving shelf containers, which were mounted on a continuous chain system behind a partition whereby the equivalent of an 18ft stack of shelves could be rotated electrically until the desired shelf levelled with the access hatch.

Perhaps the most radical aspect of the design was represented by the 18ft wide, revolving, hooded ventilator which crowned the building. The design of this ventilator was arrived at after extensive research into air-flow patterns, using wind-tunnels and models. Its purpose was to provide natural air-conditioning, whatever the weather. Two fins spun the air intake away from oncoming wind.

The system was designed to cope with hurricane conditions: the torus shape of the building minimized the pull of the wind, and to prevent the extreme pressure difference which would usually cause house windows to be blown out, the ventilator would rise up a 3ft spline, thus immediately relieving the relatively high internal air pressure. (Such eventualities are considered in Universal Requirements.)

Fuller imposed a 10 lb weight limit on each component of the house, which meant that a single person could construct it. The total weight was about 3 tons, compared to 150 tons for a conventional house of equivalent size. All the parts could be packed into a 300 cubic ft cylinder, so that the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine could be delivered anywhere by helicopter.

The retail cost at the time would be $6500 or $1/lb or, in other words, the cost of a Cadillac.

This design was due to go into mass production as part of the post-war conversion process of aircraft industry into housing industry, but the project was vetoed by Fuller in the face of certain profiteering manoeuvres on the part of his business partners. (See Hatch, pp.172-184)

Le Corbusier had, however, correctly predicted the advent of such a project. See Integrated Production.



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Paul Taylor 2001