American Masters Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud

by J. Baldwin

Click the yellow arrows above to see other inventions.

It took several decades for Bucky to realize that individual dome-homes were not going to be affordable for many who needed shelter. Worse, single-family homes are one of the main forces driving urban sprawl and high land prices. Bucky proposed megastructures.

One scheme called for two-mile-diameter spheres of 5000 inhabitants, moored or floating freely in the air. (At about one-half mile in diameter, geodesic spheres are lighter than the air they contain, and so will float like helium balloons.)

Some cities were to be under water, immune to storms, and served by equally immune submarines. Other cities were drawn afloat on the surface, too large and strong to be damaged by storms. Anchored offshore, free of inflated land prices, they offered energy-efficient, inexpensive housing near coastal city centers.

Click the picture above to examine a patent drawing for an undersea island.

Bucky also called for enormous transparent domes over entire cities. Some were to be built from scratch as controlled environments. Others would be a retrofit: He audaciously drew a dome over midtown Manhattan, noting that a few years without snow removal costs, together with the great increase in thermal efficiency and improved air quality, would easily pay for it.

But domed institutions, co-housing, neighborhoods, or even small towns probably hold the most promise. The controllable climate would permit year-round food raising. Protected from weather, houses could be lightly-built, and would last much longer. Because of air currents occurring naturally in a dome, heating and cooling costs would be low or nil, depending on he climate. A sense of community might be enhanced.

The technology to do such relatively modest projects is now well-proven and affordable.